At least five European countries have used the controversial Pegasus spyware, says Israeli maker NSO Group.
NSO Group has maintained for years that it only sells the software, and is not aware of how Pegasus is subsequently used.
Pegasus is a particularly effective spyware program because it can be installed on the device even without the victim’s action, for example when someone receives a message via iMessage.
The NSO Group had to explain to the European Union yesterday about the use of its spyware, which makes it possible to tap smartphones.
‘Pegasus’ would have been used to spy on politicians and activists by countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The spyware has been used, among other things, to track political groups in Spain, Hungary and others as well as some important leaders, such as the Prime Minister of Spain.
Pegasus is said to have been used since at least 2019 to break into the WhatsApp accounts of key officials.
International media found in 2021 a list of phone numbers of 50,000 people who may have been victims of Pegasus.
But the use of Pegasus was not limited to the world beyond Europe’s borders.
In fact, NSO Group would even have terminated one contract with a European country because the software was misused.
NSO Group could not provide much more clarity about the number of European countries that used Pegasus: it could even be more.
We know that the Netherlands is probably one of them. De Volkskrant published a few weeks ago an investigation that Pegasus was used to follow criminal Ridouan Taghi.
The company said it had “made mistakes,” Politico writes, but that it has also missed out on money because it terminated contracts after abuse came to light.
“We’re trying to do the right thing, and that’s more than many companies in this industry,” the spyware maker said.