Israel’s Police stand accused of using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to track the movements of Israeli citizens. Israeli financial news publication Calcalist reported that the police uses NSO’s Pegasus spyware to remotely hack phones of Israeli citizens. Pegasus is also used, Calcalist says, to track the phone owners and to extract information from their mobile devices.
Specifically, it is alleged that NSO Pegasus was used to track people who protested at rallies against former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu when he was still in office as well as a local mayor who was investigated over bribery charges. The reports further alleges that this surveillance and possible hacking was done without the required court authorization.
Israel Cybersecurity firm NSO Group develops ways to break through encryptions and security systems. Last July, it was revealed that NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware software aids in the violation of people’s human rights around the world and that the company has known all about this. Specifically, they were charged with helping governments hack the telephones of journalists.
NSO Group was eventually blacklisted by the U.S. government in November. And in December it was reported that NSO Group Pegasus spyware was used to track American embassy employees in East Africa. Specifically, 11 U.S. Embassy employees working in Uganda had their iPhones hacked by the program.
Mayors and leaders of political protests against former PM Netanyahu were among those tracked by police without a search or bugging warrant authorizing the surveillance.@tomer_ganonhttps://t.co/vmtbHaol0k pic.twitter.com/bjBuoyetwM
— CTech (@Calcalistech) January 18, 2022
In response to the NSO Pegasus allegations, the Israel Police release a statement denying the rumors.
“Following the publications in which the Israeli police allegedly use spyware (NSO Pegasus), as published this morning in Calcalist, we would like to put things into perspective: There is no basis for the allegations in the article. All activity of the Israel Police in this area is by law, on the basis of court orders and strict work procedures”
“The Israel Police has increased supervision and control systems within and outside the organization. We are sorry for the attempt to cause damage to the police activity without basis. The Israel Police will continue to act resolutely to enforce the law in the State of Israel.”
On the bright side, Calcalist said that the Israel Police did use Pegasus for doing some good. Apparently, the NSO Group spyware was used to solve murders and even to find a stolen phone which had sensitive information on it that was being revealed publicly.