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Saturday, January 15, 2022
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    Tech ObserverNewsCyber SecurityIsrael tightens regulatory noose around cyber tech firms amid global uproar over Pegasus spyware

    Israel tightens regulatory noose around cyber tech firms amid global uproar over Pegasus spyware

    Pegasus allows its operator to gain access to a target’s mobile phone, including contacts, text messages, and real-time communications

    Pegasus allows its operator to gain access to a target’s mobile phone, including contacts, text messages, and real-time communications

    Facing heat over its snoop spyware Pegasus, the government has announced to put in place a new framework to check its cyber exports. The latest move follows a series of scandals involving Israeli spyware company NSO Group.

    According to the Israeli government, the countries purchasing Israeli cyber technology would have to sign a declaration pledging to use the products “for the investigation and prevention of terrorist acts and serious crimes only”. It said countries that violate the terms of use could be subject to sanctions, “including limiting the cyber system and/or disconnecting it,” the government note said.

    Also, the new updated certificate would list in detail what qualifies as “terrorist acts” – like attacks on people, public facilities, seizures of aircraft, the release of dangerous substances – as well as “serious crimes” referring to those that warrant imprisonment of six years or more.

    The move will also spell out uses that are prohibited – like targeting people for political affiliation or applications that break that country’s privacy laws – for which Israel could revoke licences and the systems could be shut down.

    Meanwhile, Israel’s announcement has made no mention of NSO. But it came just days after it was revealed that 11 US state department employees were hacked with NSO spyware.

    The employees were all located in Uganda. It was the first known instance of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware being used against US officials. Last month, the US commerce department blacklisted NSO.

    Apple has also sued NSO last week over its hacking of iPhones and other Apple products. Facebook has filed a lawsuit over a similar claim that it intruded on WhatsApp.

    Pegasus allows its operator to gain access to a target’s mobile phone, including contacts, text messages, and real-time communications. NSO says it sells its tech to governments only to battle crime and terrorism.

    However, human rights groups and outside researchers have said the company’s safeguards are insufficient. They say customers have abused Pegasus to keep tabs on journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents from Mexico to Saudi Arabia. NSO declined to comment on the guide.

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