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Rival Surveillance Firm Of Pegasus Inventor NSO Group Has Also Been Assisting Governments In Hacking Into iPhones


07/02/2022


Rival Surveillance Firm Of Pegasus Inventor NSO Group Has Also Been Assisting Governments In Hacking Into iPhones
Reports that revealed the expansion of Pegasus, an eavesdropping program developed by Israel's NSO Group, has made the issue of phone snooping a hot topic again throughout the world.
 
However, a little-known spyware firm, which is also based in Israel, maybe hacking iPhones under the radar of watchdogs. The less well-known surveillance tool maker QuaDream has comparable technologies for getting into iPhones as the NSO Group, but it has managed to stay out of the limelight.
 
QuaDream, based in Tel Aviv, was brought to light by a report by the news agency Reuters, in which the company was defined as a "smaller and low-profile" Israeli company that offered smartphone hacking capabilities to agencies all around the world.
 
However, a lesser-known spyware outfit, also based in Israel, maybe hacking iPhones under the radar of watchdogs. The less well-known surveillance tool maker QuaDream has comparable technologies for getting into iPhones as the NSO Group, but it has managed to stay out of the limelight.
 
QuaDream, situated in Tel Aviv, has been brought to light by Reuters, which describes it as a "smaller and low-profile" Israeli startup that works with governments all around the world to deliver smartphone services.
 
The company was created by two former NSO workers, which explains why their technology is nearly identical to that of the NSO Group while also being effective enough to sell to countries interested in spying on their citizens' phones.
 
QuaDream, like NSO, has exploited weaknesses in iPhone software to let its clients get unauthorized access to their devices. According to reports, QuaDream sells a "zero-click" vulnerability, a powerful cyber-attack that can break into iPhones and other cellphones without the need for phishing. According to experts who evaluated it, including Google researchers, the firm's exploit is basically identical to NSO Group's FORCEDENTRY, which is famed as the world's most devastating and technologically complex cyber exploit.
 
An exploit is a set of computer code designed to exploit any security flaw or weakness in the software of the gadget being hacked in order to obtain unauthorized access to data. According to Reuters, both REIGN and FORCEDENTRY exploited identical exploits to take advantage of the same flaws in Apple's iMessage infrastructure and install malicious software on targeted iPhones.
 
The Reuters report also says that REIGN can easily “take control of a smartphone, scooping up instant messages from services such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal, as well as emails, photos, texts, and contacts.”
 
The report further said that REIGN has “premium collection” abilities such as “real-time call recordings”, “camera activation - front and back” and “microphone activation”. The information was taken from brochures published by the company from 2019 and 2020 for the hacking tool.
 
QuaDream's REIGN and NSO's FORCEDENTRY both became ineffective after Apple addressed the iMessage vulnerability in September last year, highlighting how similar the two hacking tools were. Apple has been tight-lipped about the newly formed cyber-surveillance firm and its plans to thwart any hacking efforts. However, in November of last year, it filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, alleging that the company had breached its terms and services agreement. The investigation is still ongoing.
 
While the clients of NSO Group have been well-publicized, little is known about QuaDream's clientele. According to Reuters, the organization has done work for the governments of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Singapore.
 
QuaDream's REIGN and NSO's FORCEDENTRY both became ineffective after Apple addressed the iMessage vulnerability in September last year, highlighting how similar the two hacking tools were. Apple has been tight-lipped about the newly formed cyber-surveillance firm and its plans to thwart any hacking efforts. However, in November of last year, it filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, alleging that the company had breached its terms and services agreement. The investigation is still ongoing.
 
While the clients of NSO Group have been well-publicized, little is known about QuaDream's clientele. According to Reuters, the organization has done work for the governments of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Singapore.
 
Israel is a major center for cyber-intelligence corporations that develop surveillance and snooping weaponry for a variety of clients (read governments) around the world. The NSO Group, which is currently mired in one too many issues for having close relations with the Israeli government and functioning as a diplomatic tool on its behalf, invented Pegasus, one of its most popular products. Things are sure to get worse in the coming days now that QuaDream is involved.
 
(Source:www.ndtv.com)