NSO Group Restructuring Keeps Pegasus Aloft

July 4, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The NSO Group has been under fire from critics for the continuing deployment if its infamous Pegasus spyware. The company, however, might more resemble a different mythological creature: Since its creditors pulled their support, NSO appears to be rising from the ashes.

7 2 pegasus aloft

Pegasus continues to fly. Can it monitor some of the people who have mobile phones? Not in ancient Greece. Other places? I don’t know. MidJourney’s creative powers does not shed light on this question.

The Register reports, “Pegasus-Pusher NSO Gets New Owner Keen on the Commercial Spyware Biz.” Reporter Jessica Lyons Hardcastle writes:

“Spyware maker NSO Group has a new ringleader, as the notorious biz seeks to revamp its image amid new reports that the company’s Pegasus malware is targeting yet more human rights advocates and journalists. Once installed on a victim’s device, Pegasus can, among other things, secretly snoop on that person’s calls, messages, and other activities, and access their phone’s camera without permission. This has led to government sanctions against NSO and a massive lawsuit from Meta, which the Supreme Court allowed to proceed in January. The Israeli company’s creditors, Credit Suisse and Senate Investment Group, foreclosed on NSO earlier this year, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke that story the other day. Essentially, we’re told, NSO’s lenders forced the biz into a restructure and change of ownership after it ran into various government ban lists and ensuing financial difficulties. The new owner is a Luxembourg-based holding firm called Dufresne Holdings controlled by NSO co-founder Omri Lavie, according to the newspaper report. Corporate filings now list Dufresne Holdings as the sole shareholder of NSO parent company NorthPole.”

President Biden’s executive order notwithstanding, Hardcastle notes governments’ responses to spyware have been tepid at best. For example, she tells us, the EU opened an inquiry after spyware was found on phones associated with politicians, government officials, and civil society groups. The result? The launch of an organization to study the issue. Ah, bureaucracy! Meanwhile, Pegasus continues to soar.

Cynthia Murrell, July 4, 2023


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