WhatsApp has alleged in court filings filed last week that the controversial Israeli private intelligence firm NSO Group spyware company exploited servers in the US and helped hack 1,400 WhatsApp users’ phones, The Guardian reports.
The phones targeted included those of senior government officials, journalists, and human rights activists, the Guardian says.
NSO Group has long claimed that its spyware is used by governments to track terrorists and criminals and that it was not aware of how rogue state actors such as Saudi Arabia may have used its technologies, but WhatsApp claims in its lawsuit that the firm’s Pegasus hacking software used servers controlled by NSO Group and not its government clients to hack 1,400 of its users.
“NSO used a network of computers to monitor and update Pegasus after it was implanted on users’ devices. These NSO-controlled computers served as the nerve centre through which NSO controlled its customers’ operation and use of Pegasus,” the court filings state.
They add that NSO received “unauthorized access” to WhatsApp servers and evaded the messaging service’s security features.