U.S. aerospace and defense company L3Harris Technologies, a company that is rated the sixth largest supplier of such services to the American Defense Department, is reportedly in talks to acquire the spy tech of beleaguered Israeli cyber security firm NSO Group.
A number of sources were cited by England’s the Guardian, as well as the Washington Post, as confirming that L3Harris is interested in buying out NSO Group’s infamous spyware and other software owned by the company used for surveillance and that it is already in talks to do just that.
Israeli Cybersecurity firm NSO Group develops ways to break through encryptions and security systems. In July 2021, 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.
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This has put the company – and its signature technology – at the center of a worldwide controversy and under the microscope of worldwide scrutiny. So if L3Harris were to acquire the tech it would immediately be under suspicion from world governments.
And another problem for L3Harris with any such deal moving forward is that NSO Group was blacklisted by the U.S. government in November 2021 over accusations that the company allowed its software to be used in the hacking of American diplomats. 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.
A senior White House official seemingly criticized the possible transaction saying that the U.S. government “opposes efforts by foreign companies to circumvent US export control measures or sanctions, including placement on the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List for malicious cyber activity.”
He added that if such an acquisition should go through it would not, “not automatically remove a designated entity from the Entity List, and would spur intensive review to examine whether the transaction poses a counterintelligence threat to the US Government and its systems and information, whether other US equities with the defense contractor may be at risk, to what extent a foreign entity or government retains a degree of access or control, and the broader human rights implications.”
But just the other day it was reported that the Israeli government has been lobbying the Biden Administration to drop the ban on NSO. So NSO Group might be taken off the banned list if it will no longer have control over its controversial spyware tech.
L3Harris Technologies is a global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across space, air, land, sea and cyber domains. L3Harris has more than $17 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries.