F.B.I. Bought Israeli Spyware Secretly

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Israeli spyware

Israeli spyware is highly sought after. Israeli is, after all, known for two things: High tech and security & defense. So it makes sense that many Israeli startups have put the two together and gone to work developing cybersecurity software. And this includes the development of both spyware, as well as programs to defend against spyware.

NSO Group is one such firm known for its Israeli spyware. And now the New York Times has reported that the F.B.I. secretly bought the Pegasus Spyware from NSO. According to the Times, the F.B.I. bought Pegasus spyware in 2019. And it did so in spite of knowing that Pegasus had been used against activists and political opponents in other countries.

Cybersecurity is basically any tech that has to do with protecting a system, or a person, from hackers. In 2021, the Israeli cyber security business continued its upward trend, breaking records in every field. Funds raised by Israel’s cyber security business more than tripled between 2010 and 2020, reaching a record high of around $8.8 billion. And this includes investment Israeli spyware development.

Most such firms work against the hackers. So Israeli spyware startups like Pentera and BigPanda develop the software and tech needed to defend systems against spyware.

Spyware is just one aspect of cybersecurity. Spyware is software with malicious behavior used by hackers to collect information about a person or organization and send it to another entity in a way that harms the user. It is something that can be secretly installed in an infected device, without the user’s knowledge, just by opening an infected e mail or going to a dangerous website. That’s why there are so many programs out there to defend against such hacks and to clean out a computer if infected.

So what is the big deal with the Israeli spyware Pegasus? Israel Cybersecurity firm NSO Group develops ways to break through encryptions and security systems. Last July, it was revealed that NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware software aids in the violation of people’s human rights around the world and that the company has known all about this. Specifically, they were charged with helping governments hack the telephones of journalists.

NSO Group was eventually blacklisted by the U.S. government in November. And in December it was reported that NSO Group Pegasus spyware was used to track American embassy employees in East Africa. Specifically, 11 U.S. Embassy employees working in Uganda had their iPhones hacked by the program.

The Israel Police have also now been accused of using the Pegasus spyware on Israeli citizens. In other words, Israeli spyware was used against Israelis.

The New York Times revelations come after a yearlong investigation into the matter. But the Times found that in the end, the F.B.I. chose not to use the Israeli spyware.

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