Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 19, 2021

U.S. Takes Down Israeli Spy Software Company

A number of international papers report today on the Israeli hacking company NSO which sells snooping software to various regimes. The software is then used to hijack the phones of regime enemies, political competition or obnoxious journalists. All of that was already well known but the story has new legs as several hundreds of people who were spied on can now be named.

How that came to pass is of interest:

The phones appeared on a list of more than 50,000 numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens and also known to have been clients of the Israeli firm, NSO Group, a worldwide leader in the growing and largely unregulated private spyware industry, the investigation found.

The list does not identify who put the numbers on it, or why, and it is unknown how many of the phones were targeted or surveilled. But forensic analysis of the 37 smartphones shows that many display a tight correlation between time stamps associated with a number on the list and the initiation of surveillance, in some cases as brief as a few seconds.

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism nonprofit, and Amnesty International, a human rights group, had access to the list and shared it with the news organizations, which did further research and analysis. Amnesty’s Security Lab did the forensic analyses on the smartphones.

The numbers on the list are unattributed, but reporters were able to identify more than 1,000 people spanning more than 50 countries through research and interviews on four continents.

Who might have made such a list and who would give it to Amnesty and Forbidden Stories?

NSO is one of the Israeli companies that is used to monetize the work of the Israel's military intelligence unit 8200. 'Former' members of 8200 move to NSO to produce spy tools which are then sold to foreign governments. The license price is $7 to 8 million per 50 phones to be snooped at. It is a shady but lucrative business for the company and for the state of Israel.

NSO denies the allegations that its software is used for harmful proposes with a lot of bullshittery:

The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the “unidentified sources” have supplied information that has no factual basis and are far from reality.

After checking their claims, we firmly deny the false allegations made in their report. Their sources have supplied them with information which has no factual basis, as evident by the lack of supporting documentation for many of their claims. In fact, these allegations are so outrageous and far from reality, that NSO is considering a defamation lawsuit.

The reports make, for example, the claim that the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used the NSO software to spy on the leader of the opposition party Rahul Gandhi.

How could NSO deny that allegation? It can't.

Further down in the NSO's statement the company contradicts itself on the issues:

As NSO has previously stated, our technology was not associated in any way with the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi. We can confirm that our technology was not used to listen, monitor, track, or collect information regarding him or his family members mentioned in the inquiry. We previously investigated this claim, which again, is being made without validation.

We would like to emphasize that NSO sells it technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terror acts. NSO does not operate the system and has no visibility to the data.

How can NSO deny that the Saudi government, one its known customers, used its software for spying on the then murdered Jamal Khashoggi when it 'does not operate the system' and 'has no visibility to the data'?

You can't claim both a. assure knowledge and b. to have no way to have gained it.

But back to the real issue:

  • Who has the capacity to make a list of 50,000 phone numbers that include at least 1,000 who were spied on with NSO's software?
  • Who can 'leak' such a list to some NGO and make sure that lots of 'western' media jump onto it?
  • Who has an interest in shutting NSO down or to at least make its business more difficult?

The competition I'd say. And the only real one in that field is the National Security Agency of the United States.

The U.S. often uses 'intelligence' as a kind of diplomatic currency that keeps other countries dependent on it. If the Saudis have to ask the U.S. for snooping on someone it is much easier to have influence over them. NSO is disturbing that business. There is also the problem that the first class spying software NSO is selling to somewhat shady customers might well fall into the hands of some big U.S. adversary.

The 'leak' to Amnesty and Forbidden Stories is thus an instrument to keep some monopolistic control over client regimes and over spying technology. (The Panama Papers were a similar kind of U.S. sponsored 'leak', only in the financial field.)

Edward Snowden, who once was committed NSA supporter but leaked NSA documents because he wanted it to stick to the law, is supporting this campaign:

Edward Snowden @Snowden - 16:28 UTC · Jul 18, 2021
Stop what you're doing and read this. This leak is going to be the story of the year: https://theguardian.com/world/2021/...
---
Edward Snowden @Snowden - 15:23 UTC · Jul 19, 2021
There are certain industries, certain sectors, from which there is no protection. We don’t allow a commercial market in nuclear weapons. If you want to protect yourself you have to change the game, and the way we do that is by ending this trade.
Guardian: Edward Snowden calls for spyware trade ban amid Pegasus revelations

Snowden seems to say that NSO, which sells it software only to governments, should stop doing so but that the NSA should continue the use of such spying instrument:

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, Snowden said the consortium’s findings illustrated how commercial malware had made it possible for repressive regimes to place vastly more people under the most invasive types of surveillance.

Snowden's opinion on this is kind of strange:

chinahand @chinahand - 17:28 UTC · Jul 19, 2021
fascinating how Mr "US state surveillance is the greatest threat to humanity" gets worked up about the fact that a bit of state surveillance is apparently outsourced to a private contractor by mid and low tier state actors.
Edward Snowden @Snowden - 17:06 UTC · Jul 19, 2021
Read about the Biden, Trump, and Obama officials who accepted blood money from the NSO group to bury any efforts at accountability -- even *after* their involvement in the death and detention of journalists and rights defenders around the world!
WaPo: How Washington power brokers gained from NSO’s spyware ambitions

The uproar in the the media created by the NSO revelation is already having the desired effect:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has shut down infrastructure and accounts linked to Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group, Amazon said in a statement.

The move comes as a group of media outlets and activist organizations published new research into NSO's malware and phone numbers potentially selected for targeting by NSO's government clients.

"When we learned of this activity, we acted quickly to shut down the relevant infrastructure and accounts," an AWS spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.

AWs has for years known about NSO's activities. NSO has been using CloudFront, a content delivering network owned by Amazon:

CloudFront infrastructure was used in deployments of NSO's malware against targets, including on the phone of a French human rights lawyer, according to Amnesty's report. The move to CloudFront also protects NSO somewhat from researchers or other third parties trying to unearth the company's infrastructure.

"The use of cloud services protects NSO Group from some Internet scanning techniques," Amnesty's report added.

That protection is no longer valid. NSO will have quite some problems to replace such a convenient service.

Israel will whine about it but it seems to me that the U.S. has decided to shut NSO down.

For you and me that will only marginally lower the risk of being spied on.

Posted by b on July 19, 2021 at 17:53 UTC | Permalink

Comments

How do you explain the suspiciously-timed, and simultaneous, Five Eyes denunciation of China for alleged hacking of Microsoft? Is it a way of deflecting too much wrath on Israel? Or, is b wrong and the China story serves as real distraction.

Posted by: Prof | Jul 19 2021 18:09 utc | 1

thanks b.. it is an interesting development which seems to pit the usa against israel... i am having a hard time appreciating this... maybe... interesting conundrum snowden paints himself into... @ 1 prof... there are plenty of distractions to go around.. hard to know...

Posted by: james | Jul 19 2021 18:17 utc | 2

Prof @1--

In our day-and-age, all "Spectacular Stories" serve as distractions, although some are genuine scoops illuminating criminal behavior involving state actors. Ultimately, this scoop provides much more leverage for Putin's ongoing insistence that an International Treaty dealing with all things Cyber including Cyber-crime be convened ASAP.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 19 2021 18:31 utc | 3

"Who has an interest in shutting NSO down or to at least make its business more difficult?
The competition I'd say. And the only real one in that field is the National Security Agency of the United States."

There is at least one other possibility.

The leak could be from a highly sophisticated state actor that needs to "blind" US and especially Israeli intelligence services temporarily.

That could very easily be China, Russia or even Iran. Some of their assets could be on the list.

Exposing the service weakens, or possibly destroys, it until another workaround is found.

China might do this to push customers towards some of their cellphones that are supposedly immune to this.

Russia and Iran might need to blind Mossad, NSA and CIA or upcoming operations in Syria, Iraq and possibly Afghanistan.

Who knows?

Posted by: Mar man | Jul 19 2021 18:34 utc | 4

Weird to have the US burn an Israeli spy operation (I’d be surprised if they didn’t build back doors into their own software) in such a public manner.

The only reason I can think of for the US to shut NSO down is if they refused to share information they had gathered with the NSA and so they were put out of business.

Snowden didn’t have a problem with the NSA et al spying on foreign adversaries. He had a problem when the NSA was spying illegally on US citizens.

Posted by: Down South | Jul 19 2021 18:36 utc | 5

The Zionists do not control the world as the world believes. The Zionist Jews are oppressing the Palestinians but in the rest of the world the Jews are scapegoats. The Jews and Christians are People of the Book. We can coexist. But the atheist Mongols who rule China are a great threat to the world. I am a Muslim and I can coexist in peace with Jews and Christians, but the atheists and polytheists will always attack Muslims.

Posted by: Gul | Jul 19 2021 18:43 utc | 6

did fyi show up again with a different name??? looks like it..

Posted by: james | Jul 19 2021 18:50 utc | 7

JUSA: Blackmailing and Bribing Politicians; it's what they do.

Posted by: ld | Jul 19 2021 19:07 utc | 8

No marriage can survive financial problems. This is just capitalism eating itself for scarce profits.

Posted by: vk | Jul 19 2021 19:11 utc | 9

This is an old story going back years.
https://citizenlab.ca/2018/09/hide-and-seek-tracking-nso-groups-pegasus-spyware-to-operations-in-45-countries/
The question is: Why is it being investigated so closely now?

The 'West' could be using it as a weapon to rein in Israel, which it sees as getting more and more out of control. Netanyahu might be gone but the policies that he represents will not just disappear.

The mass media didn't like Israel's destruction of the building in Gaza where the Associated Press had its offices. How are the media supposed to publish reports from places where they don't have anywhere to work?

Western governments are exasperated that Israel doesn't even pretend to have any respect for international law and human rights. Nobody in power in the West cares about those things either, and they really want to support Israel, but doing that is a lot harder when Israel makes it so obvious that it is a colonial aggressor.

As the Guardian reported yesterday, "The Israeli minister of defence closely regulates NSO, granting individual export licences before its surveillance technology can be sold to a new country."

The attack on NSO looks like a message to the Israeli state.

Posted by: Brendan | Jul 19 2021 19:13 utc | 10

Can we expect US sanctions against Israel, whose intelligence agency sponsored this, and against the Various Israeli companies involved?

Posted by: chet380 | Jul 19 2021 19:24 utc | 11


I have been developing the impression that "Biden" has a grudge against anybody who made too good friends with Trump.

And I agree with Mar Man, I would not assume yet that this is Uncle Sugar, but maybe.

Posted by: Bermildred | Jul 19 2021 19:31 utc | 12

I think you are very wrong in your assessment that this is about business and getting rid of the competition. Information isn`t about money. It is about power.

The people at MoA might not have noticed it because of ideological bias but Netanyahu and Biden (and before him Obama) were quite hostile towards each other. To a degree they were almost waging a kind of undercover cold war against each other (culminating in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334).

In this context I don`t believe the "former" Israelis spies at NSO are just Isrealis. They are a specific kind of Israelis. Namely extreme-right Israelis/Likud loyalists. Netanyahu created his own private unit 8200 - outside of the Israeli state. The profit that NSO made were just the "former" spies regular payment.

The USA - with the consent and probably active assistance of the new Israeli government - took Netanyahus private intelligence service down.

Posted by: m | Jul 19 2021 19:42 utc | 13


The only mention of this on FOX NEWS was to turn it into an anti-Biden story. I'm shocked :-)
FOX: "Washington Post report neglected spyware firm's Democratic connections in hacking investigation" Next on FOX: 'the Biden Administration threatened Israeli firm if they did not cooperate with providing intelligence on anti-Communist demonstrators' (this last sentence is a parody, the first sentence is real.)


Chinese ransomware was all the rage.
To the goons on CNN, allegations = fact and the U.S. doesn't use hacking to spy on anyone, ever. Only China and Russia do that and they are evil for doing it.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Jul 19 2021 19:43 utc | 14

The US has found out that the NSO spyware can be used BY the "other regimes" against US leaders. Or at least against US assets.

The Israelis would sell their wares to anyone with a buck (or shekel, as the buck is getting rather uncertain as a money).

IE. Saudi buys a section of numbers and then decides to track and eliminate "opposants". BUT if there are CIA personnel implanted with a good cover story, then OOOPS, "another one bites the dust".

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 19 2021 19:47 utc | 15

What laws exist in your nation to prevent illegal snooping?

How about profiling by the digital companies? Nations need to pass laws making it a CRIMINAL offense to conduct snooping or hacking without a warrant. What happened to Apple’s claims about its devices’ superior security and privacy?

Let’s see what sanctions or criminal ACTIONS are taken against NSO, its executives and other companies. Is any of the information captured by NSO shared with Israel &/or Five Eyes? Are their financial accounts frozen? Let’s see how they’re treated compared to Huawei.

Are Dark web sites linked to the REvil ransomware gang operating? Shutdown all illegal snooping and cyber crimes entities.

A rule or law isn't just and fair if it doesn’t applies to everyone, and they can’t be applied at the whims of powerful. Laws and rules applied unequally have no credibility and legitimacy.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by: Max | Jul 19 2021 19:47 utc | 16

Max | Jul 19 2021 19:47 utc | 16

“A rule or law isn't just and fair if it doesn’t applies to everyone, and they can’t be applied at the whims of powerful. Laws and rules applied unequally have no credibility and legitimacy.“

Max, are you sure you have got your feet on this planet earth? If there is one factor that is common to his era, is that "Justice" is no longer blindfolded, but is looking out for the best interests of "friends".

Can you name a few countries where your ideal is the norm?

*****
PS. Don't bother, as I won't reply, I'm off to bed to dream of a perfect world. Much easier, and I can do it lying down.

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 19 2021 20:02 utc | 17

Another possible scenario is that the NSO has been poaching people and/or techniques from US intel agencies for use in its for-profit schemes.
That is one thing which is guaranteed to get a negative reaction - regardless of who is doing it and which party is in power.
We do know that NSO has been very active on the exploit buying dark webs since their inception...

Also, I would point out that US entity action against NSO didn't just start today: Facebook sued them even before COVID, in 2019

And earlier 2016 NSO mention in Apple exploit

The above article also notes that NSO was acquired by Francisco Partners in 2010...

Thus maybe all this is purely a capability play: The US is falling behind and so wants to bring in house, more capability. One way is to squeeze an existing successful player so that they have to cooperate/sell out...

All I can be sure of, is that none of the present foofaraw has anything to do with the truth.

Posted by: c1ue | Jul 19 2021 20:35 utc | 19

"In fact, these allegations are so outrageous and far from reality, that NSO is considering a defamation lawsuit."

Ya..Right. That's not remotely gonna happen!

The NSO 'Group" would have to provide a substantial amount of their very sensitive 'operational' & 'proprietary' internal documents - which would most certainly be requested in discovery - to any of the possible defendants should NSO be stupid/arrogant enough to actually file a formal suit of "defamation" in a any US court.

Talk about a "defamation" legal case that would get shut down faster than Mueller's show indictment of 13 'Russian' agents and their related businesses that were reportedly part of the now infamous "Guccifer 2.0" "Hack"

When these "Russian" hackers simply countered by producing a surprise Washington based legal team that publically agreed to call Mueller's bluff and have the all of the 'indicted' defendants actually appear in court, they immediately "requested" - via the discovery process - all relevant documents that the Mueller team purportedly had that confirmed that their was any actual or attempted (hacking) criminality.

VIA POLITICO:

The 13 people charged in the high-profile indictment in February are considered unlikely to ever appear in a U.S. court. The three businesses accused of facilitating the alleged Russian troll farm operation — the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, and Concord Catering — were also expected to simply ignore the American criminal proceedings.

Last month, however, a pair of Washington-area lawyers suddenly surfaced in the case, notifying the court that they represent Concord Management. POLITICO reported at the time that the move appeared to be a bid to force Mueller’s team to turn over relevant evidence to the Russian firm and perhaps even to bait prosecutors into an embarrassing dismissal in order to avoid disclosing sensitive information.

The NSO Group is never going to even considering this "defamation" route, but their threatening legal bluster is pure... Hutzpa!

thewokendead

Posted by: thewokendead | Jul 19 2021 20:39 utc | 20

Perhaps insiders knew about Khashoggi, a Wash Post posterboy, and his bigamyistery, but I did not, and now have to laugh about his outing. Maybe we have finally heard the last of him.

Posted by: Bart Hansen | Jul 19 2021 20:55 utc | 21

In a world in which this can be done, the worst of governments will do it, and in the worst ways.

The US and other governments have promoted this. Their own intelligence services use it. They actively oppose efforts to block it, as happened with private encryption ideas.

We can't both make it possible and prevent the bad guys from doing it.

We have deliberately made it possible, and opposed serious efforts to protect private life against it. Now we are surprised?

Posted by: Mark Thomason | Jul 19 2021 20:55 utc | 22

@ Stonebird (#17), you missed the pun in those words. Maybe you’re sleeping while reading.

The Financial Empire and its lackeys want a “rules-based international order” and China-Russia... want a “rule of international laws”. Both are meaningless and worthless as they’re applied unequally. I am awake and in sync with REALITY. Just playing with these two ideas. We have the law of the jungle. However, Orcs (individuals without conscience – dark souls) are worse than animals in greed, deceits and killing.

“The Black Speech of Mordor need to be heard in every corner of the world!”

Posted by: Max | Jul 19 2021 21:07 utc | 23

U.S. Takes Down Israeli Spy Software Company

To me this operation looks more like George Soros trying to take down the government of Hungary.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jul 19 2021 21:28 utc | 24

@Petri Krohn, 24

What leads you to this conclusion?

Posted by: cirsium | Jul 19 2021 22:11 utc | 25

Interesting story but I agree that the hype is overblown because nothing much will change even if this NSO outfit has a harder time flogging its spyware to all and sundry.

The NSA, CIA, MI5/6, Mossad and the 5 Lies spies will continue spying on friend and foe alike and tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google will likewise continue their unethical surveillance practices and will keep passing on private citizen’s data to government spy agencies. So it goes.

For a dissident Snowden is a lightweight. His beef wasn’t, as b points out, with the NSA itself, he just didn’t like them spying on Americans within the USA. He had no problem spying on people in other countries as long as the proper ‘rules’ were followed. That, almost by definition, makes him a limited hangout.

Posted by: Antibody | Jul 19 2021 22:42 utc | 26

The AI report notes that this software was abandoned in 2018 for cloud implementations to help hide responsibility;
Having Amazon AWS dump services naming NSO probably has no effect at all, as NSO will just use other names;

Posted by: Sam F | Jul 19 2021 22:47 utc | 27

@Max 23

“ However, Orcs (individuals without conscience – dark souls) are worse than animals in greed, deceits and killing.”

Non-human animals operate on a genetically programmed autopilot and are not responsible for their actions.

Humans are partially engineered by genetics but unlike the “lower” animals they have the power to choose which actions they will take and they are therefore responsible for their choices.

A bear or a mountain lion will attack a human when it is injured or when protecting its young, but one can’t blame these animals for exercising their survival instincts.

Human beings are the only mammal, indeed the only animal, that is capable of evil, i.e. deliberately choosing to harm or kill other humans for profit or personal gain.

Posted by: Antibody | Jul 19 2021 22:53 utc | 28

On this subject, I suggest barflies read the excellent post on the previous MoA Week in Review thread by:

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jul 19 2021 1:36 utc | 71

My reply @167 and Uncle T's further comment.

The book on this criminal conduct is called 'Murdoch's Pirates.' The detestable Amazon have it at 'unavailable' however it is available at Australian bookseller Booktopia.


Posted by: Paul | Jul 19 2021 23:06 utc | 29

How do you explain the suspiciously-timed, and simultaneous, Five Eyes denunciation of China for alleged hacking of Microsoft? Is it a way of deflecting too much wrath on Israel? Or, is b wrong and the China story serves as real distraction.

Posted by: Prof | Jul 19 2021 18:09 utc | 1

If the US navy were to purchase leaky boats would it not be absurd for it to then blame Russia or China for the influx of water?

If the US government, and US industry, purchase software full of holes is it not equally absurd for them to blame a foreign entity for any resulting leaks?

In answering these questions it is worthwhile to remember that US government entities support the insertion of backdoors in US commercial software. Such backdoors can be identified and exploited by 3rd parties.

Posted by: Sushi | Jul 20 2021 0:24 utc | 30

The gibbering globetrotting genocidal Gujarati gangster government of Narendrabhai Damodardasbhai Modi also, and even craven regime media like WION allude to it, used the malware to spy on independent journalists.

I asked on various fora if the cow urine drinking Modi regime worshippers will now demand action against their most beloved fascist "nation", the apartheid zionist settler colony in Occupied Palestine. No response, naturally.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Jul 20 2021 0:44 utc | 31

I know that all y'all are waiting with baited breath to hear what Lauren thinks about the latest distraction
So here ya go
Read 'em and weep
I agree with the barfly that called Snowden for who I think he is.
Just like the Pentagon Papers, it's a Limited Hangout.

I also agree with "b" in that the Mob hates competition.
Just my 2 cents
I could be wrong......

Blessings to Everyone on here

L

Posted by: Lauren Michele | Jul 20 2021 0:54 utc | 32

If this somewhat limp-wristed takedown of NSO did not have the support of apartheid Israel's intelligence services, the graun would not be pushing the story.

It is that simple, the guardian is run by rabid zionists such as Jonathon Freedland deputy editor, who retains editorial control from the second seat rather than #1 simply because the zionist board wanted to stroke the fishwrap's woke credentials by having a female editor.
Foreign news and england news all have many zionist journos.
Now even the sports desk features stories by a bloke called Jacob Steinberg 'n sport is not generally an interest of jews.
Also if NSO a corporation born to advance particular media interests were in fact a tool of apartheid israel's intelligence establishment, it is unlikely that it would have tried to sue the graun back in 2019.

None of that precludes Mossad plants working at NSO, in fact the move against it would suggest that zionist intelligence has wrung the organisation dry.
This 'takedown' suggests to me that these services will continue, but not for everyone as before. ME governments will never again gain full access, no matter how friendly they may claim to be. All future contracts with whatever entity follows will only proceed if permitted by FukUSi.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Jul 20 2021 1:37 utc | 33

Since the software is licensed by the number of phones it's installed on, NSO must have a means of determining the device ID/phone number of each phone (You wouldn't trust some shady third-world regime to be honest, would you?

Posted by: J2 | Jul 20 2021 1:44 utc | 34

The Israeli connection just read an account on AC by Rod Dreher and so far, writers are downplaying the connection to Israel. If it was a Chinese or Russian company we would be blaming Putin.

We blame Putin for every criminal in Russia but I don't see anyone blaming Israel for a product they they authorized for export. Wow.

It does take two to tango, so I do understand talking about the clients who bought the product but if they have the export version of the spyware the it's obvious that Israel has the super-duper lethal version but that's okay. No biggie. But Iran having any weapons to defend their own country is a scandal.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Jul 20 2021 1:49 utc | 35

US taxpayers subsidize the Israeli military industry. The zionists then developed tools which they use against palestinians and their adversaries. The same technologies are later sold at a profit to various United states security agencies. A wonderful self licking ice cream cone of christian zionism, so much winning... Paying up the wazoo for our own eslavement. Last I checked, the chosen one's were never held accountable for their role prior to 911 operations.

Fox News Series on Israeli Spying on US Telecommunications:
https://cryptome.org/fox-il-spy.htm

Posted by: Boss Tweet | Jul 20 2021 1:56 utc | 36

OMG: the Modi government tried to do what both US, the ME & PR China are doing since decades: spy on internal dissent!

Posted by: Antonym | Jul 20 2021 2:04 utc | 37

The Amerikastani Con-serve-ative manages to write a whole article about this without mentioning the name of the "country" that created and exported this software.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/pegasus-end-of-privacy/

This same Amerikastani Con-serve-ative pretends to champion free speech but doesn't permit the slightest criticism of this same "nation", the racist fascist apartheid zionist settler colony in Occupied Palestine. In fact the very mention of the word "zionist" will get your comment removed.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Jul 20 2021 2:12 utc | 38

I’m of the school of thought that Snowden is still an active CIA asset used to assist in discrediting government agencies, such as the NSA, to allow private corporations to take their place in data collection and dissemination. Alphabet, and it’s AI/quantum computers should not be ignored in this particular scenario

Posted by: MrChristian | Jul 20 2021 3:11 utc | 39

@ Antibody (#28), good points, thanks.

Human beings with conscience are INNER directed. Those without strong conscience (Orcs) are OUTER directed and thereby easily captured, corrupted and controlled. Human beings with great conscience (soul/spirit), strong mind and healthy body are PARAGONS.

Orcs were once elves. They got programmed by the dark forces of Saruman & Sauron (Sin). Sauron’s EYE is for intimidation. Seeing it sends fear into the hearts of people and sucks away their courage. “When did we let evil become stronger than us?” Communicate reality, truth and expose power freely!

There is still light to defeat the darkness. May your light light others 🕯🕯🕯

Posted by: Max | Jul 20 2021 3:15 utc | 40

karlof1 #3

Ultimately, this scoop provides much more leverage for Putin's ongoing insistence that an International Treaty dealing with all things Cyber including Cyber-crime be convened ASAP.

Israel and the UK will never sign such a protocol. The USA? only if it is worthless.

Mar man #4

The leak could be from a highly sophisticated state actor that needs to "blind" US and especially Israeli intelligence services temporarily.

That could very easily be China, Russia or even Iran. Some of their assets could be on the list.

pssst - UK

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jul 20 2021 3:32 utc | 41

@13 Seems plausible..

Posted by: Lozion | Jul 20 2021 4:18 utc | 42

@ cirsium | Jul 19 2021 22:11 utc | 25.. i tend to view it like petri, but i have nothing to give you to solidify it.. soros is hungarian fwiw..

@ Biswapriya Purkayast | Jul 20 2021 2:12 utc | 38 - wrong.. quote from the american conservative article... "Their mobile phone numbers appeared in leaked records, indicating they were selected prior to possible surveillance targeting by governmental clients of the Israeli company NSO Group, which developed the Pegasus spyware."

personal quote from the writer at end of article - "Like I’ve been saying, we have to prepare to live under a soft totalitarian regime. It seems inevitable to me. In a polarized society, all you have to do is convince half the country that this technology is necessary to protect the Good People from the Bad People. I mean, look, nothing is fated, but if Snowden’s revelations didn’t marshal the public to stop this stuff, what will?"

btw bp - i enjoy your work and comics.. thanks for posting...

@ MrChristian | Jul 20 2021 3:11 utc | 39... that's a tricky one to unravel... hard to know exactly what is what with snowden..

Posted by: james | Jul 20 2021 4:32 utc | 43

Something smells fishy about this outing.

Parts of it look like organizations trying to get out in front of a train and make it look like a parade. Since it is connected to Occupied Palestine the depth of misdirection can be hard to calculate. While the theory from m at #13 about it being a personal tiff between Biden and Netanyahu has some appeal I tend to believe it is more complex than that.

Commenters write about the spy agencies like they are the top dogs in our species organization chart and forget, conveniently or otherwise, that the global private finance folk have been running agencies like what we have now for centuries.....just more behind the curtain because no Intertubes before....

So the question for me is what is happening in the global spy network land that precipitated this gambit....I can think of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba for starters that might be in this game as well and have some feelings about how it should be "played" and perhaps they want to prosecute how it has been played in the past.........we may be at the too soon to tell stage of this scene....

The shit show is getting uglier but carries on....thanks to Debisdead for the FukUSi acronym which seems to capture the core support of the face of the sociological cult of the West.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 20 2021 5:14 utc | 44

"Snowden's opinion on this is kind of strange". Snowden's task, almost a decade ago now, was to facilitate the passage of CISPA. Greenwald was the PR guy. Remember Obama saying we need to have a conversation about privacy versus security? Well, Snowden and Greewald helped him to have the conversation on his terms. And the media giants will be forever grateful. Greenwald even got his own website. So no, nothing strange about what Snowden said. It was in his script. Was, is and always will be an asset.

Posted by: Sarcophilus | Jul 20 2021 5:28 utc | 45

What I'm mainly worried about is whether NSO will be providing refunds to its customers! Now that the service is being rendered ineffectual, imagine those poor buyers who spent those millions!

Posted by: Blobbindrod | Jul 20 2021 6:15 utc | 46

In a broader context:
"In a corporatist system of government, where there is no separation between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship is state censorship. The actual government as it actually exists is censoring the speech not just of its own people, but people around the world. If US law had placed as much emphasis on the separation of corporation and state as it had on the separation of church and state, the country would be unrecognizably different from what we see today."
“It’s A Private Company So It’s Not Censorship”

Posted by: Linus | Jul 20 2021 6:35 utc | 47

Sanctions? Sanctions, did anybody mention sanctions for those carrying out Cyber attacks? (Particularly ones that target "Freedom of speech" and Journalists.)


.............Just waiting.

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 20 2021 8:05 utc | 48

@43:

That's a quote from another source in the article. The original writing in the article didn't mention the I word once.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Jul 20 2021 8:06 utc | 49

@VK : 9 "No marriage can survive financial problems."
I can assert this is not true, only another of your absurd generalization.

@M : 13 "Netanyahu and Biden (and before him Obama) were quite hostile towards each other"
Thanks for the input.

When it comes to the source of the list, the leak comes at the moment where Binden obtained from the west to condemn China & Russia on Hacking,
I would bet on China or Russia to be the source of the leak in order to deflect or decrease the effects of the condemnation by emphasizing hacking is everywhere.

Posted by: murgen23 | Jul 20 2021 10:09 utc | 50

Apple is also zionist controlled, so not surprising that NSO had all internal details to hack their iPhones, via tribal leakers or approved connections. So is Amazon, so their cloud service for NSO continues under other cover.

Those in danger should not use Apple or Amazon-based or other zionist-controlled products or services. A catalog of those might help.

Posted by: Joe B | Jul 20 2021 10:11 utc | 51

At least it seems that the guys who coordinated their eid attacks in Baghdad, Kabul and Bamako do not have troubles with NSO.

Posted by: Mina | Jul 20 2021 12:02 utc | 52

I'm surprised the NSO hasn't blamed the attacks on it as antisemitism. That tactic seems to work everywhere else.

Posted by: Chas | Jul 20 2021 12:21 utc | 53

The quote of Snowden by b does not really defend state spying, only suggests that it can be justifiable where privatized spying cannot. (5) notes that Snowden accepted some “spying on foreign adversaries” but not “spying illegally on US citizens”

Not clear why (26) and (32) think that would make Snowden “a limited hangout” or why (39) calls him a “CIA asset” discrediting NSA “to allow private corporations to take their place in data collection.” That would need evidence.

Not clear why (45) thinks Snowden’s role was to facilitate passage of the 2011 “Cyber Intelligence Sharing [and Protection] Act” supported by big tech but widely opposed and finally sneaked into the 2015 budget bill. There seems to be no connection to Snowden usable there.

Posted by: Sam F | Jul 20 2021 12:58 utc | 54

U.S. Takes Down Israeli Spy Software Company

I don't buy it. It doesn't sound plausible to me as presented.

One possibility is that it is a camouflaged operation to take down non-attributably spy software that has fallen into the wrong hands, and thereby contrary to US interests. For example, the new Myanmar government is sure to be using the software to observe the US-sponsored miscreants from the Aung San Su Kyi regime who are bombing schools, hospitals and government offices, and to seek out wanted criminals in hiding. The NSO take-down could be an operation to take those licences out of operation. In that scenario those NSO customers who are not anti-US might get support to continue operations as usual. As another example it could also be used as a warning to the Saudis not to get too close to the Russians and Chinese or ditch the US dollar, and not to accommodate to Iran.

Or maybe NSO just had the wrong political connections in the USA.

Whatever it may seem on the surface, that is what it surely is not.

Posted by: BM | Jul 20 2021 13:00 utc | 55

I certainly can't compete on tech savvy as I have none, but doesn't this perhaps line up with the summit decision between Putin and Biden to cooperate in terms of policing cybercrime? Maybe that's too obvious, but I don't see that Snowden is contradicting his own positions in that case. And of course, b, you are correct that the main culprit on these matters is the US. Throwing the spotlight elsewhere however, doesn't mean it can't circle around. Spotlights have a way of doing that.

Posted by: juliania | Jul 20 2021 14:54 utc | 56

The interesting backdrop to all this is that Israel has a *huge* presence in all things associated with cybersecurity and have for years. The IDF's Talpiot plan no doubt enviously eyed the NSA tapping into everyone's internet/cellphone traffic and wanted a piece of the action. The financial intelligence alone would make it hugely valuable, not to mention blackmail opportunities and the means to exercise political control.

I wonder if the Intel's Haifa design bureau was behind the infamous "management engine" installed on *every* Intel chip since 2008 (to, of course, "make administration easier")?

The discover of this "feature" precipitated a huge scandal not too many years back if you recall...

This "feature" gave anyone who could access it the ability to snoop or change the code running on the main CPU... anyone want to guess whether the Mossad knows how to get to it?

Posted by: Simplicius | Jul 20 2021 15:15 utc | 57

@Simplicius | Jul 20 2021 15:15 utc | 57
"I wonder if the Intel's Haifa design bureau was behind the infamous "management engine" installed on *every* Intel chip since 2008 (to, of course, "make administration easier")?"

I remember 30 years ago there was controversy over the NSA requiring hardware backdoors in all phones. At the time, it was called the "Clipper chip". Reportedly, the program failed and was never adopted. Apparently, as this article exposed, that is false and something like it is installed in all phones and possibly computers manufactured for sale in the western world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipper_chip

Supposedly, the real story behind Huawei sanctions and kidnapping of their executive, is Huawei phones have no NSA backdoor since the Chinese flatly refuse to cooperate with NSA.

Posted by: Mar man | Jul 20 2021 15:37 utc | 58

Turns out the Microsoft hacking accusation against China wasn't a distraction against the NSO scandal, but a capitalist reaction against the CPC's growing containment of their own big tech capitalists:

The Crackdown in China Is a Hot Mess, and It’s Coming for Us

For people who don't know: this Kara Swisher is clearly an USG asset (or behaves exactly like one). Every column she writes is an unashamed apology to all the USG policies on big tech and on all decisions of American big tech.


Posted by: vk | Jul 20 2021 15:40 utc | 59

@juliania 56

There has been some tentative moves past Biden-Putin, but this one does not appear to be as it's taking aim at ME autocracies + Orban. (While in the RF it's a sort of the reverse).

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/jul/18/viktor-orban-using-nso-spyware-in-assault-on-media-data-suggests

https://forbiddenstories.org/fr/nos-donateurs/

Posted by: Don Karlos | Jul 20 2021 16:34 utc | 60

Russia did it.

Posted by: Andrew | Jul 20 2021 17:14 utc | 61

My guess, this software turned up on the phones of some folks in the US/UK security sector who weren't expecting to find it there.

Or, it turned up on enough members of the US patron class they finally kicked.

Posted by: Miller | Jul 20 2021 17:55 utc | 62

@ vk (#59), Your conclusion about Kara Swisher is good one. However, cast the net wider to understand the NETWORK that she represents and find additional media Orcs. Most likely she is an asset of the Global Financial Syndicate, acting as a gatekeeper/porter/lobbyist in the technology arena. Her mentor Walter Mossberg was an asset too? It is easy to identify Orcs!

Work Experience: WSJ, The Washington Post, New York Times, ... Who did she sell Recode to? Who are financiers of Vox Media?
Education: Georgetown, Columbia University (many assets come from here)

Posted by: Max | Jul 20 2021 18:26 utc | 63

While the theory from m at #13 about it being a personal tiff between Biden and Netanyahu has some appeal I tend to believe it is more complex than that.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 20 2021 5:14 utc | 44

While Dems could accumulate some grudges against Netanyahu, they can be pretty thick skinned on that. On the other hand, if Netanyahu used his budget to dig the dirt against his opponents like Bennet, with NSO as the took, the grudge against NSO could be very strong on the side of the current government of Israel. Internal strife between Likudniks is intense. And the mantle of the ruler of Israel comes with perks, like the ability to plant stories in WP and NYT.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 20 2021 19:05 utc | 64

CIA 'takedown' of NSO? or an orchestrated 'crackdown' on press freedoms?

UK journalists could be jailed like spies under proposed Official Secrets Act changes

The Government said the reform was needed as the existing acts, with the last update in 1989, are no longer enough to fight the “discernible and very real threat posed by state threats”.

The Home Office said it does “not consider that there is necessarily a distinction in severity between espionage and the most serious unauthorised disclosures, in the same way that there was in 1989”.

[More at the link.]


If it was Russia or Iran that was selling such spyware, would FUKUS react with measures against the press or with sanctions and efforts to protect the press?

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 20 2021 23:33 utc | 65

On the other hand, if Netanyahu used his budget to dig the dirt against his opponents like Bennet, with NSO as the took, the grudge against NSO could be very strong on the side of the current government of Israel. Internal strife between Likudniks is intense. And the mantle of the ruler of Israel comes with perks, like the ability to plant stories in WP and NYT.
Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 20 2021 19:05 utc | 64

Ah, you've nailed it, Piotr!

Posted by: BM | Jul 21 2021 7:14 utc | 66

@64 Piotr Berman
This goes much deeper than just personal animosity.

For several years now there had been some kind of cultural war waging in Israel with the populist leader - Netanyahu - on the one side and and most of the Israeli establishment - the Mossad, the generals and the High Court - against him. The generals eventually acted by founding their own party (with the former TV presenter Lapid at it`s head) and deposed Netanyahu.

This cultural war in Israel is not only very similar to the cultural war in the USA. The two countries are so intervened with one another that both conflicts have kind of merged.

Posted by: m | Jul 21 2021 9:41 utc | 67

Posted by: m | Jul 21 2021 9:41 utc | 67

"This cultural war in Israel is not only very similar to the cultural war in the USA. The two countries are so intervened with one another that both conflicts have kind of merged."

Posted by: m | Jul 21 2021 9:41 utc | 67

Yes, not unrelated to the purge Biden seems to be planning here. Bibi made a big mistake getting so cozy with Trump. I would wager Trump is going to be in the crosshairs too. And that is likely to be divisive, in both places.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jul 21 2021 10:19 utc | 68

The Zionists do not control the world as the world believes. The Zionist Jews are oppressing the Palestinians but in the rest of the world the Jews are scapegoats. The Jews and Christians are People of the Book. We can coexist. But the atheist Mongols who rule China are a great threat to the world. I am a Muslim and I can coexist in peace with Jews and Christians, but the atheists and polytheists will always attack Muslims.

Posted by: Gul | Jul 19 2021 18:43 utc | 6>/blockquote>

You is nucking futs boy !

I'll get me coat.

Posted by: Sarlat La Canède | Jul 21 2021 22:02 utc | 69

@64 Piotr Berman
This goes much deeper than just personal animosity.

For several years now there had been some kind of cultural war waging in Israel with the populist leader - Netanyahu - on the one side and and most of the Israeli establishment - the Mossad, the generals and the High Court - against him. The generals eventually acted by founding their own party (with the former TV presenter Lapid at it`s head) and deposed Netanyahu.

This cultural war in Israel is not only very similar to the cultural war in the USA. The two countries are so intervened with one another that both conflicts have kind of merged.

Posted by: m | Jul 21 2021 9:41 utc | 67

I do not see a lot of similarity between "cultural wars". In a small country, politics are more personal, and in a multi-party system, personalities may drive key political parties. "Bennett entered politics in 2006, serving as Chief of Staff for Benjamin Netanyahu until 2008. In 2011, together with Ayelet Shaked, he co-founded the My Israel extra-parliamentary movement.[6] In 2012, Bennett was elected as the party leader of The Jewish Home...." and now he became Prime Minister on "anybody but Netanyahu" principle. What cultural issue forms a wedge between Likud and The Jewish Home?

The only issue is how to treat a "sector" that consists of very, very Jewy Jews who (a) mainly students the scripture and commentaries (b) wish to get stipends from the state on that accounts, and (c) want to be exempt from the military service. To Likud, there are absolutely adorable, being so very very Jewy (and their votes can be reliably purchased). To Jewish Home, they are apostates, military service being a sacred duty. Even so, Bennet himself was a Netanyahu man until recently, first raising to the exalted position of Netanyahu right hand, next as a reliable coalition partner. Netanyahu couple (Sara Netanyahu may be an important actor here) converted Likud to a veritable comet, regularly loosing big chunks. For example,

"After Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister, Lieberman served as Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office" and later created "Israeli Home Party" (Bennet seems to be a plagiarist...).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 22 2021 1:22 utc | 70

70 Piotr Berman
You are right on Bennett, he is just a Likud renegade. His party is however not the biggest member of the currently governing coalition. That`s "Blue and White" which is essentially just a department of the IDF. (The prime ministers office apparently had been the price in order to get Bennett on board.)

Posted by: m | Jul 22 2021 9:26 utc | 71

IIM APPALLED! AFTER ALL WE HAVE DONE FOR ISREAL WHAT THEIR INTELLIGENCER DOING? PERHAPS 'ON THE TAKE'

FSB

Posted by: SERE OF T SHENENDOAH | Jul 23 2021 15:13 utc | 73

"We firmly deny the false allegations in the report" Nothing to say about the true ones then?

Posted by: Mark in Mayenne | Jul 25 2021 15:08 utc | 74

"Competitors" could just be another Israeli spyware company with better connections to present Israeli and US administrations.

Posted by: Charles Peterson | Jul 27 2021 22:36 utc | 75

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