Blacklisted Israeli Spyware Firm CEO Quits

The chief executive of the Israeli spyware company NSO Group is stepping down as part of a corporate reorganization to focus on business with member countries of NATO. Shalev Hulio will be replaced by COO Yaron Shohat, who will manage the company’s reorganisation.  

NSO has been connected to a number of scandals resulting from alleged misuse by customers of its flagship Pegasus phone surveillance software. Last year, the US blacklisted the company, saying its tools had been used to “conduct transnational repression.”

NSO Group also said it is entering its "next phase of growth," which will now focus sales on countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) alliance. While NSO is privately owned, the Israeli Ministry of Defence has the power to approve any export of cyber warfare technologies, leading some commentator to claim that Israel's political interests influenced Pegasus sales to governments with questionable human rights records.

The company was responsible for the controversial Pegasus spyware due to its usage against activists, journalists, and political figures. The spyware company stated that it plans to streamline its operations to ensure that it remains one of the world’s leaders in covert intelligence technology that they plan to focus on sales to countries that are member of NATO.

While not the only Israeli firm capable of supplying highly sophisticated spyware and surveillance tools, NSO Group is the most well-known. The company was widely publicised in an investigation which revealed that its spyware products were being sold to governments across the globe

The company was added to a US export blacklist last year following the investigation, preventing American companies from purchasing the spyware. Subsequently, Pegasus spyware was used to penetrate the EU Commission and has also been found on the Spanish Prime Minister's smartphone 

NYTimes:    Oodaloop:      Guardian:      Infosecurity Magazine:       Independent:    Unified Guru

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