The company behind the Pegasus spyware is in bad shape. But like the Lernaean Hydra, it intends to rise from its own ashes.
Remember, a year ago. Pegasus, the spyware marketed by NSO Group, was at the heart of multiple revelations. Journalists, human rights activists as well as presidents and ministers were found to have fallen victim to the bafflingly capable spyware.
A real problem for security, sovereignty, and the image of NSO Group. The Israeli company promised not to develop this software and to market it only within the framework of the fight against terrorism and against crime. It was quite different. And since then, the commercial relations between NSO Group and the state powers that bought the Pegasus software have remained very vague.
The impact of these revelations was directly reflected in the financial health of the company. NSO Group is doing badly. Its balance sheet was already threatened by a long-standing loan, supposed to allow the company to continue to invest, and now the Pegasus scandal has heavily penalized its future. As AFP confirms, 100 of the company’s 700 employees have just been laid off and CEO Shalev Hulio is packing his bags.
“Shalev Hulio [will] be replaced by Yaron Shohat, currently chief operating officer who will preside over the reorganization,” reads a statement from NSO Group sent to the news agency. On the program, “the company is reorganizing to prepare for its next wave of growth”, she preferred to say, adding however that “NSO will ensure that its cutting-edge technologies will be used in a fair and commendable manner”.
Among the other sites of its reorganization, is the desire to focus on NATO countries. At a time when Ukraine is at war with Russia and while the Pegasus scandal forced the United States to blacklist NSO Group, it is time for the company to fight for its survival. In view of the power of its tool, capable of setting up on any phone and monitoring exchanges, including on the most secure platforms, NSO Group should have no trouble finding takers.
3 billion smartphones caught in the shadows
Also in its press release, the company confirmed that it still wants to become “one of the largest cybertech companies in the world”. Faced with it, more discreet American companies are no less formidable. In other revelations by the media The Intercept, we learned at the beginning of May 2022 of the existence of the companies Anomaly Six and Zignal Labs. Their activity made it possible to track and locate live no less than 3 billion smartphones, which were shadowed.
From all this new evidence, the general public discovered behind the scenes in the technological advances of mass surveillance. Private companies are fearsome on cyber espionage. All this without the slightest effort thanks to the data of multiple mobile applications. It is the latter, by reselling the location data of their users, who do the heavy lifting. With this amount, the spyware only has to interrogate each device in real-time with its data updated to the minute.