‘Only Criminals Should Fear Pegasus,’ Says NSO Group CEO

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The news that Pegasus surveillance software has been used to monitor more than 50,000 targets around the world, released on Sunday (18), left many users fearful of having their cell phone monitored by the tool. But, according to NSO Group CEO Shalev Hulio, the program’s owner, only those who don’t comply with the law should fear spyware.

“People who are not criminals, not the ‘Bin Ladens’ of the world, should not be afraid. They can have complete confidence in the security and privacy of their Google [Android] and Apple [iOS] devices,” the executive noted in an interview with Forbes, on Thursday (22), referring to common users.

In the conversation, the co-founder of the Israeli company contested the report released by US and British newspapers. According to Hulio, 50,000 people would be an “insane” amount of targets to monitor, as the software is sold to a group of 40 to 45 countries, each targeting around 100 cell phones.

He also denied that his company is involved in the attempted hacking of the smartphone of French President Emmanuel Macron and other French officials. Despite this, he stated that he has no way of monitoring what customers do with the tool, thus freeing himself from any responsibility for the actions of third parties.

Abuse detection

Criticized by former US National Security Agency (NSA) employee Edward Snowden and Telegram CEO Pavel Durov, Hulio defended the use of Pegasus. According to the executive, spyware is essential to help governments catch terrorists, pedophiles and other dangerous criminals.

Asked about possible abuses in the use of the tool, which would not be tracking only outlaw agents, he said that the NSO has ways to stop the program. Upon detecting misuse of the resource, the company cites that it can trigger a switch, disabling the spy software.

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