Facebook Takes on NSO Group

October 30, 2019

Now this is an interesting and possibly inadvisable move. Facebook is big and it has become the one company able to create more negative vibes than an outfit like Boeing (737 Max which allegedly was called “flying coffins”or Johnson & Johnson (the outfit famous for baby powder with a possible secret ingredient).

Why WhatsApp Is Pushing Back on NSO Group Hacking” provides a Facebook professional’s explanation of the decision to go after the NSO Group, a specialized software and services firm with some government clients:

As we gathered the information that we lay out in our complaint, we learned that the attackers used servers and Internet-hosting services that were previously associated with NSO. In addition, as our complaint notes, we have tied certain WhatsApp accounts used during the attacks back to NSO. While their attack was highly sophisticated, their attempts to cover their tracks were not entirely successful.

I particularly relished this statement by the Facebook professional:

At WhatsApp, we believe people have a fundamental right to privacy and that no one else should have access to your private conversations, not even us. Mobile phones provide us with great utility, but turned against us they can reveal our locations and our private messages, and record sensitive conversations we have with others.

Yeah, yeah, the DarkCyber team hears your voice. Is that voice one that resonates with truth, honor, and “ethical behavior” cranked up on the baloney amplifier?

Several observations:

  • It is generally a good idea to understand one’s opponent before getting into a bit of a tussle. Some opponents have special capabilities which are not often understood in the go go, move fast and break things world of Facebook
  • Facebook lacks what DarkCyber thinks of as “credibility stature.” In fact, the shadow the firm casts is a long one, but the path the company has followed in its crepuscular journey of those who may be afraid of the light. (Apologies to Plato)
  • NSO Group states: “NSO products are used exclusively by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight crime and terror.”

Based on information I glean from my lectures at law enforcement and intelligence conferences, WhatsApp is an encrypted messaging service popular among some bad actors.

Oh, one final question, “Where did some of NSO’s team garner their operational experience?”

Give up. Gentle reader, knowing the answer is probably important. Does Facebook know the answer? Another good question.

Stephen E Arnold, October 30, 2019


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