US blacklists Israeli firm NSO Group for use of spyware

Commerce officers added the Israeli corporations to its so-called “entity list,” successfully banning the businesses from shopping for software program parts from US distributors with out a license.

Also added to the record have been Russian agency Positive Technologies and Singaporean agency Computer Security Initiative Consultancy. Commerce accused these two corporations of trafficking “in cyber tools used to gain unauthorized access to information systems.”

Taken collectively, it is without doubt one of the greatest steps but by the Biden administration to curb the sale of hacking instruments that analysts say have been utilized in human rights abuses world wide.

“Today’s action is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to put human rights at the center of US foreign policy, including by working to stem the proliferation of digital tools used for repression,” the Commerce Department mentioned in an announcement.

NSO Group slammed the Commerce announcement. In an announcement, the agency mentioned it’s “dismayed by the decision given that our technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and thus we will advocate for this decision to be reversed.”

Washington Post: Investigation finds Israeli-designed spyware was used to hack journalists and activists around the world

“We look forward to presenting the full information regarding how we have the world’s most rigorous compliance and human rights programs that are based [on] the American values we deeply share,” in keeping with the assertion, “which already resulted in multiple terminations of contacts [sic] with government agencies that misused our products.”

Computer Security Initiative Consultancy didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark. Candiru couldn’t be reached for remark.

The Treasury Department in April sanctioned Positive Technologies, accusing the agency of offering assist for Russia’s FSB intelligence company. The agency has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement Thursday, Positive Technologies dismissed the Commerce and Treasury departments’ actions as geopolitically motivated, and mentioned the Treasury sanctions had carried out little to harm the agency’s enterprise.

“We firmly believe that geopolitics should not stand in the way of the society’s technological development, and will never stop doing what we do best: delivering cybersecurity on a global scale,” the corporate mentioned.

Cybersecurity analysts and human rights activists have lengthy accused NSO Group, particularly, of promoting invasive and easy-to-use cellular hacking software program to repressive governments. NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware and adware is alleged to have been used to spy on a journalist and activist in Morocco and the widow of a slain Mexican journalist, amongst different targets, in keeping with safety researchers. (NSO Group has mentioned it solely sells its software program to approved customers for regulation enforcement and counterterrorism missions.)

US authorities officers have been involved by the enlargement of the marketplace for hacking instruments and the flexibility of international governments to shortly develop their very own cyber capabilities utilizing American experience. In September, for instance, the Justice Department announced charges in opposition to three former US intelligence and navy operatives for allegedly serving to construct a hacking program for the United Arab Emirates authorities.

“The US Department of Commerce’s designation is a very positive first step to bringing some public accountability and order to this otherwise poorly regulated marketplace,” mentioned Ron Deibert, head of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, a analysis crew that has documented alleged abuse of Pegasus.

Natalia Krapiva, tech authorized counsel at nonprofit Access Now, mentioned different governments may comply with the US in blacklisting spyware and adware distributors.

The United States is “saying these companies are in fact acting in violation not only of universal human rights, but also US national security,” Krapiva advised CNN. “US blacklisting them likely means that other democratic powers will have to respond in a similar way and we strongly encourage them to.”

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