Reuters reports that the iPhones of at least nine U.S. State Department employees were hacked by an unknown assailant using sophisticated spyware developed by the NSO Group, according to four unnamed “people familiar with the matter.”
The hacks, which took place in the last several months, hit U.S. officials either based in Uganda or focused on matters concerning the East African country, two of the sources said. The intrusions represent the widest known hacks of U.S. officials through NSO technology. Reuters said it couldn’t determine who launched the latest cyberattacks.
NSO Group said in a statement on Thursday that it did not have any indication their tools were used but canceled the relevant accounts and would investigate based on the Reuters inquiry.
Last month Apple announced that it’s filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company “to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users.”
NSO Group Technologies is an Israeli technology firm primarily known for its proprietary spyware Pegasus, which is capable of remote zero-click surveillance of smartphones. It was founded in 2010 by Niv Karmi, Omri Lavie, and Shalev Hulio.
Apple says the complaint provides new information on how the NSO Group infected victims’ devices with its Pegasus spyware. To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple says it’s also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices.