Israeli ministers to look into NSO spyware charges | India News

Israel has set up a senior inter-ministerial team to look into growing allegations that the Pegasus spyware sold by an Israeli cyber firm has been abused in India, France, Mexico, Morocco and Iraq, an Israeli source said on Wednesday. However, the source deemed it “doubtful” that new curbs would be placed on the spyware’s exports. Stopping short of describing the team’s task as a formal investigation, the source said: “The objective is to find out what happened, to look into this issue and learn lessons.”
The inter-ministerial team is headed by Israel’s National Security Council, which answers to PM Naftali Bennett and has broader areas of expertise than the defence ministry, which oversees exports of NSO Group’s software.
“This event is beyond the defence ministry purview,” the source said, referring to potential diplomatic blowback.
Commenting on the development, an NSO spokesperson said: “We welcome any decision made by the government of Israel, and we are convinced that the company’s activities are without flaw.”
Bennett’s office declined comment. Addressing a cyber conference on Wednesday, the prime minister did not mention the NSO affair.
A global investigation published on Sunday by 17 media organisations, led by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden Stories, said Pegasus had been used in attempted and successful hacks of smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists.
NSO has rejected the reporting by the media partners, saying it was “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories”. Pegasus is intended for use only by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime, NSO said.
Such purposes are also what guide Israel’s export policy, defence minister Benny Gantz said in a speech on Tuesday. But, in a reference to the allegations around Pegasus, he added: “We are currently studying the information published on the matter.”
At the conference, Bennett said Israel has memorandums of understanding with dozens of countries about cyber security, which he wants to upgrade into a “global cyber defence shield”.

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