WhatsApp sues Israeli spyware firm for hacking phones of 1,400 people

WhatsApp has sued Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO Group, accusing it of hacking the phones of 1400 people including senior government officials, human rights activists and journalists.

In new court filings, the messaging company alleged that Israeli spyware company used US-based servers to hack more than a dozen Indian journalists and Rwandan dissidents and therefore, bears responsibility in serious human rights violations.

WhatsApp has said victims of the hack received phone calls using its messaging app, and were infected with Pegasus.

In the lawsuit, it revealed more technical details about how the hacking software, Pegasus, which is allegedly deployed against targets.

According to WhatsApp’s filing, NSO gained ”unauthorized access” to its servers by reverse-engineering the messaging app and then evading the company’s security features that prevent manipulation of the company’s call features.”

“It used a network of computers to monitor and update Pegasus after it was implanted on users’ devices. These NSO-controlled computers served as the nerve centre through which NSO controlled its customers’ operation and use of Pegasus.”

It is demanding a permanent injunction blocking NSO from attempting to access its computer systems and those of its parent company, Facebook.

NSO Group has been claiming that its spyware is purchased by government clients for the purpose of tracking down terrorists and other criminals and that it had no independent knowledge of how those clients, which in the past have reportedly included Saudi Arabia and Mexico, use its hacking software.