NSO Group CEO Shalev Hulio Claim that Facebook tried to buy a Pegasus Spyware to monitor better their users especially access to the Apple user’s data and their activities.
Pegasus is a powerful commercial spyware developed by Israel based spyware maker NSO group, also known as Q cyber technologies.
The company claimed that they sell its spyware only government and law enforcement agencies for tracking criminals and terrorists, but it alleged that their technology also used to target the individual users around the world
Oct 2019, Facebook filed a lawsuit against the NSO group in the U.S district count in northern direct of California for hacking its WhatsApp messenger by exploiting the zero-day vulnerability using Pegasus to steal the WhatsApp users data.
Now, the Defendant of this case, NSO group or Q cyber technologies CEO and the major shareholder of the company Shalev Hulio declared that two Facebook representatives approached to NSO group to purchase the right to use certain capabilities of Pegasus spyware.
During the time, Facebook was in an initial stage of deploying the VPN Product called Onavo Protect that helps Facebook to analyze the user’s traffic and their activities and send them through the VPN.
Also, he started his declaration in the Court document “Onavo Protect, which has frequently been categorized as “spyware,” allowed Facebook to gather information about Onavo Protect users, including the applications installed on those users’ mobile devices and the amount of time the users spent on each application. “
Also, Facebook representatives stated that Facebook was concerned that its method for gathering user data through Onavo Protect was less effective on Apple devices than on Android devices.
Facebook requested to NSO group that they wanted to use purported capabilities of Pegasus to monitor the users on Apple devices and was willing to pay for the ability to monitor Onavo Protect users.
Shalev Hulio also stated that ” Facebook proposed to pay NSO a monthly fee for each Onavo Protect user. Facebook is a private entity and not a sovereign government or government agency for national security and law enforcement purposes and therefore does not meet NSO’s customer criteria and NSO group declined the sale”
Facebook Spokesperson stats that “NSO is trying to distract from the facts Facebook and WhatsApp filed in court over six months ago. Their attempt to avoid responsibility includes inaccurate representations about both their spyware and a discussion with people who work at Facebook. “
Facebook removed the Onavo Protect from the App Store and Google Play as well due to the suspect of monitoring the users.