Facebook accuses Israeli spyware firm of hacking WhatsApp

WhatsApp and its parent Facebook Inc. sued spyware manufacturer NSO Group, alleging that the Israeli company used malware to hack into the mobile phones of 1,400 people and conduct surveillance.

According to the lawsuit, Between January 2018 and May of this year, Israel-based NSO created WhatsApp accounts and used those accounts to send malicious code to targeted devices. The bogus accounts were created using telephone numbers registered in different countries, including Cyprus, Israel, Brazil, Indonesia, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Facebook says the hack targeted attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and other senior foreign government officials.

Facebook and WhatsApp say their lawsuit marks the first time an encrypted message provider is taking legal action over such an attack. Legal experts say Facebook’s lawsuit is risky because it could reveal sensitive information about how WhatsApp’s encrypting technology works.

The social network wants to ban NSO from its platforms and is seeking unspecified damages.

NSO disputes the claims and says it will vigorously fight the lawsuit.

The breach was first revealed by the Financial Times in May. WhatsApp alerted users to the suspicious video calls that month and updated the app.


Source: Bloomberg Africa, Financial Times