Pegasus Scandal

Pegasus spyware used to spy on U.S. officials: reports

Published : December 04, 2021 16:54 IST

Spyware developer NSO Group said it was investigating claims that its technology was used to hack the phones of U.S. officials in Uganda. Photo: AP Photo / Sebastian Scheiner / File Photo

State Department officials were reportedly targeted by Israeli spyware previously used in cyberattacks on journalists.

Nine U.S. State Department officials were targeted by the Israeli spyware Pegasus, U.S. news outlets reported on December 3. Spyware developer NSO Group said it was investigating claims that its technology was used to hack the phones of U.S. officials in Uganda.

Reuters news agency cited four sources who said that nine U.S. diplomats had been targeted. The Associated Press reported that 11 officials had their iPhones hacked. It was unclear who was behind the alleged cyberattack. The hacking is the first known instance of Pegasus spyware being used against United States government personnel.

'Serious risk to U.S. personnel'

"We have been acutely concerned that commercial spyware like NSO Group software poses a serious counterintelligence and security risk to U.S. personnel,'' White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on December 3. NSO said it was willing to cooperate. "On top of the independent investigation, NSO will cooperate with any relevant government authority and present the full information we will have," the firm said in a statement.

NSO Spyware known as Pegasus has reportedly been used to spy on activists and journalists and turns phones into pocket spying devices. In November the U.S. government announced that it would impose export limits on the company, saying that its tools "enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression."

jsi, kb/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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