What to know about the spying scandal linked to Israeli tech firm NSO

The logo of NSO Group displayed on a building where the Israeli cybersecurity company previously had offices, in Herzliya, Israel, in 2016. (credit: Daniella Cheslow / AP)
Palestinian advocates say Israel is a laboratory for spy technology, where young recruits in the military’s most secretive intelligence units monitor Palestinians.

By Daniel Estrin | National Public Radio | Aug 25, 2021

“The defense industry and the high-tech industry are the two sacred cows of the Israeli economy.”
— Shay Aspril, Israeli journalist 

JERUSALEM — Israel takes enormous pride in its high-tech industry. But one of its star cybersecurity companies, NSO Group, is at the center of an international spying scandal that has concerned U.S. officials, and the Israeli government plays a role.

The Pegasus Project, a consortium of international media outlets, says a leaked list of some 50,000 phone numbers showed that governments around the world sought NSO’s cellphone hacking technology Pegasus to spy on people or mark them as potential targets, whether inside or beyond their own borders.

It says the phone numbers selected by governments for surveillance belong to a staggering array of potential targets, including political dissidents, human rights activists, 180 journalists in nearly two dozen countries, a Dubai princess escaping her father, the fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and 14 heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron.

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