Facebook claims NSO Group used US-based servers to target WhatsApp users

    The social networking giant has also claimed that a remote Amazon server was also used in the attack on WhatsApp users last year.
    By: HT CORRESPONDENT
    | Updated on: Apr 26 2020, 10:42 IST
    The NSO Group allegedly used  its Pegasus software “more than 700 times” between April and May last year to attack the victims.
    The NSO Group allegedly used its Pegasus software “more than 700 times” between April and May last year to attack the victims. (HT Web)
    The NSO Group allegedly used  its Pegasus software “more than 700 times” between April and May last year to attack the victims.
    The NSO Group allegedly used its Pegasus software “more than 700 times” between April and May last year to attack the victims. (HT Web)

    Facebook has intensified its attack on the Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group. Last year, Facebook filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group claiming that the firm had used a malware attack to infect the accounts of over 1,000 WhatsApp users. Now, Facebook has filed accusations that the firm used US-based servers to stage the attack on the targeted WhatsApp users.

    According to a report by Cyberscoop (via Engadget), the NSO Group used servers by Los Angeles-based hosting provider, QuadraNet, to stage an attack using its Pegasus software "more than 700 times" between April and May last year. The social networking giant has also claimed that a remote Amazon server was also used in the attack on WhatsApp users last year.

    In addition to that, Facebook's lawyers also worked to shoot down the claim that the case should be dismissed on grounds of the jurisdictional technicalities and the company's 'sovereign immunity defense'. The company's legal team argued that the NSO group had failed to identify a single government that used its surveillance technology. It had also failed to show any evidence, which would establish the firm's limited operational role.

    "Defendants pin blame on unidentified [governments]..."That argument fails at every turn: Defendants cannot cloak themselves in their putative clients' immunity; they are accountable for suit in a California court. NSO is neither a sovereign nor immune from the court's exercise of jurisdiction," the filing reads.

    The NSO Group, on the other hand, didn't comment on the matter. Instead it reiterated its older claim that it didn't offer its Pegasus software to clients. "NSO Group does not operate the Pegasus software for its clients…," the company said in a statement.

    Facebook had filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group in San Francisco last year alleging that the firm had used malware to hack into the smartphones of 1,400 people and conduct surveillance on them. The company claimed that the Israeli firm created WhatsApp accounts between January 2018 and May 2019 to send malicious code to targeted devices.

    At the time, the NSO Group refused all the allegations and said that it would fight them "vigorously".

    Later, eight employees filed a lawsuit against Facebook in Tel Aviv demanding that Facebook unblock their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

    The story took a new turn earlier this year when the NSO Group asked a judge to issue sanction orders against Facebook for not giving a proper notice to the company under the Hague convention when it filed a lawsuit against it in October last year.

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    First Published Date: 26 Apr, 09:10 IST
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