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NSO Group Behind Data-Stealing, Next-Gen Cyberweapon?

Newly unearthed ‘evidence’ points towards the notorious NSO Group being behind a next-gen cyberweapon that could have a devastating impact if unleashed. Unconfirmed sources say that the group has developed a new type of spyware capable of siphoning data from your Facebook Messenger, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and even Google Cloud accounts. The group denies its involvement in the weapon’s development, claiming that it only designs and deploys “important assets for responsible governments.” Neither of the above-mentioned company discovered any infiltration.

What’s this cyberweapon everybody’s talking about?

Allegedly, NSO Group has recently deployed an enhanced and far more devastating version of Pegasus, a tool used for online eavesdropping. According to the claims, the tool, which is seemingly a WhatsApp spyware off-spin, is capable of harvesting data from a smartphone’s memory storage. More than that, Pegasus 2.0 can steal data even if it’s cloud-stored.

Of course, there are many spyware tools with such capabilities but, apparently, Pegasus can access and siphon data from multiple and unrelated accounts. Though there’s no proof-of-concept so far, Financial Times, the same publication which blew the whistle on the group, believes that the tool can successfully be used to steal data from Google Cloud, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft accounts.

As to how the attack’s being conducted, Financial Times speculated that once inside the phone’s storage, the spyware could clone the authentication keys and later syncing them with a spy server. Once the data’s been delivered to the server, the phone’s can be imitated to perfection. And we all know what happens after that – it’s bye-bye data and hello dark web.

So far, the Israeli-based group has denied the existence of Pegasus’s upgrade, but it wouldn’t be the first time this happened. One must surely recall the Bluetooth bug incident which was uncovered through the efforts of the cybersecurity experts working at the Boston University. However, this time’s a bit different since it involves spyware that can target multiple, high-valued entities.

Following Financial Time’s report, all five companies involved conducted security sweeps in an attempt to identify anything related to NSO’s alleged cyberweapon. All five reported finding nothing conclusive but did say that the hearsay may not be entirely untrue. So, is this the beginning of an all-out cyberwar? Highly unlikely, but I would venture to say that if indeed NSO has something like this in the making, there will be many interested parties out there if you get my drift.

Wrap-up

On my part, I believe that NSO is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation – no matter how hard they try to whitewash this gig, there will still be someone out blackballing the group.  So, what’s your take on FT’s investigation? Drop a comment and let me know.

About Daniel Sadler

Old-school PC gamer, poetry buff, cat lover, tech wiz. His writing career began almost two decades ago when he modestly acknowledged that hindsight or, lack thereof, can compromise security. He enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family. Most of his friends refer to Daniel as a "man of a few words, but, man, what words!" His interests include cybersecurity, IT, blogging, and, of course, everything related to technology.

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