NSO Group: Now the Women Allegedly Harmed Gain Media Traction. Wowza!

August 2, 2021

I read “I Will Not Be Silenced: Women Targeted in Hack and Leak Attacks Speak Out about Spyware.” My first reaction to the story was, “How many college sociology and poli-sci classes will make NSO Group, its product Pegasus, and the implications of “targeting” a subject for a case study, discussion groups, and papers? My second thought was, “NSO Group has been able to watch the ripples of intelware crashing against the awareness of the naïve, the clueless, and the mobile phone addicts.”

I don’t know if the peacock’s news report is accurate or just one of those weird bird noises made by the species. That probably doesn’t matter because the write up pulls in women and hooks intelware to a quite magnetic topic: The treatment of women.

The peacock squawked:

Female journalists and activists say they had their private photos shared on social media by governments seeking to intimidate and silence them.

Now that’s a heck of an assertion. True or not, the idea of “personal” pix nestling in distributed and local storage devices is not something that most people want to have happen.

Here’s a quote from the write up, and it will be interesting to watch how the crisis management advisors to NSO Group tap dance across this allegedly true statement:

“I am used to being harassed online. But this was different,” she added. “It was as if someone had entered my home, my bedroom, my bathroom. I felt so unsafe and traumatized.”

That’s a whiz bang statement which drags in nuances of privacy invasion and personal safety. Let’s call a meeting and maybe issue another feel good, make streets safer story. Yeah, how’s that working out?

The write up has another quote that glues NSO Group to the notion of freedom. Hello, Israel?

“Pegasus is a spyware tool and a weapon used against freedom of the press, freedom of expression, human rights activism and journalism,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, director of Amnesty Tech, a division of Amnesty International focused on technology and surveillance tools. “Women’s freedom of expression is abused and targeted in a very specific way both online and offline. “The focus is on silencing them, putting the attention on their bodies or what they should be wearing or saying,” she added.

I have noticed that more people are aware of intelware as a result of this NSO Group toe stubbing.

What about those intelligence conference organizers? How about those experts pitching intel-related conferences on LinkedIn? What about those nifty white papers on intelware vendors’ Web sites?

My thought is that as more content is downloaded and more of the journalists chasing NSO Group info punch their searches into the Google, the more those ripples will be agitated.

Yikes. No easy fix it seems. Chasing revenues and making intelware into a household word are problematic. Many entities are likely to be suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. PR is good until it is not.

Stephen E Arnold, August 2, 2021

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