Following concerns about possible abuses overseas of a hacking tool supplied by Israeli business NSO Group, Israel’s Calcalist financial daily cut its list of nations eligible to acquire its cyber technology.
Countries like Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are the names of some countries that were among the nations that will no longer be able to buy Israeli cyber technology. The number of nations allowed to purchase it has been reduced from 102 to only 37.
In a statement, Israel Defence Minister said that “appropriate steps” when the terms of usage in the export licenses it gives are broken, it says so, but it doesn’t say if any licenses are canceled. Since July, when a group of foreign news organizations disclosed that NSO’s Pegasus programme had been used to hack into the phones of journalists, government officials, and human rights activists in many countries, Israel has been under pressure to limit spyware exports.
These revelations led Israel to conduct a review of the Defense Ministry’s cyber export policy.
According to Amnesty International and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, Pegasus has been connected to political monitoring in nations such as Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, who both normalized relations with Israel last year, as well as Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
NSO has denied the allegations, claiming that it only provides its products to governments and law enforcement organizations and that it has measures in place to prevent them from being misused.
NSO was placed on a trade blacklist by US officials earlier this month for selling spyware to nations that were abusing it. The decision has angered the corporation, which claims that its solutions “support U.S. national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime”. NSO has also been sued and chastised by large tech companies, who accuse it of exposing its consumers to hackers. This week, Apple Inc became the latest company to sue NSO.