Hack the application to espionage
WhatsApp denounces an Israeli company for espionage
The messaging company WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, filed a complaint against an Israeli firm on Tuesday in San Francisco, accusing it of having penetrated its system to spy on activists, diplomats and activists worldwide. The complaint itself is a rare precedent that the company explained to protect the privacy and security of users and respond in court to the espionage episode.
On May 14, WhatsApp, whose messaging application is installed on 1.5 billion phones worldwide, announced that it had detected a malicious program that installed spyware on the phones through a video call. No need to pick up the call. Then, WhatsApp accused the Israeli company NSO Group of being behind this attack, which affected about 1,400 users.
There is a disturbing factor in the attack, said Will Cathcart, president of WhatsApp, at a podium in The Washington Post on Tuesday. Their goal was at least 100 human rights activists, journalists and other members of civil society worldwide. This should serve as a wake-up call for technology companies, governments and all Internet users. The tools that allow the surveillance of our private life are being used, and the proliferation of this technology in the hands of irresponsible companies and governments puts us all at risk.
The NSO company once denied being behind this spying operation and denied it again after knowing the judicial initiative of WhatsApp. We reject today's accusations in the strongest terms and will fight them hard, NSO said in a statement quoted by Reuters. The sole purpose of NSO is to provide technology for government intelligence and police agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crimes.
That hacking episode was especially serious for WhatsApp, since one of its main attractions is the encryption of its messages, that is, the security that only the sender and the receiver know the content. The lawsuit ensures that access was achieved through software called Pegasus, a spy program that is one of the NSO products. The lawsuit asks that NSO be brought to trial, banned from using any WhatsApp or Facebook service and compensation.