Apple announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the Israeli cyber company NSO Group and its parent company OSY Technologies, claiming that it is illegally monitoring and targeting U.S. Apple users through its spyware called Pegasus.
Aside from the lawsuit, the tech giant is also considering banning NSO Group from any use of Apple software, devices or services.
Apple is the latest company among a group of high-profile companies and governments to come after NSO, the owner of the Pegasus hacking tool that surveillance groups say has targeted human rights activists and journalists.
Just this month, the U.S. government blacklisted NSO for trade, and the company is also facing lawsuits from Microsoft Corp, Meta Platforms Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Cisco Systems Inc.
It has been alleged that NSO is involved in circumventing the security of these tech giants and selling them to foreign governments as a hacking tool.
NSO said in a statement that it only sells its tools to governments and law enforcement agencies and has safeguards in place to prevent the tools from being misused.
In its complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Apple argued that NSO’s tools were used in “concerted efforts in 2021 to target and attack Apple customers” and that “U.S. citizens have come under surveillance by NSO’s spyware on mobile devices that can and do cross international borders.”
In addition, Apple accuses NSO of having created more than 100 fake Apple ID user data to carry out attacks and that NSO Group was directly involved in providing advisory services for the attacks.
The iPhone maker agreed to donate $10 million along with any damages from the lawsuit to cyber-surveillance research groups, including Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto group that discovered the attacks using NSO tools.