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Pegasus spyware maker NSO added to Entity List as a national security threat

iPhone X passcode screen
iPhone X passcode screen (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • NSO has been added to the US Entity List over national security concerns.
  • NSO is the creator of a prolific spyware app called Pegasus that's been used against journalists, governments, and more.

NSO, the company behind the Pegasus spyware, has been added to the US Entity List over national security concerns. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added NSO to the list along with three other companies.

By adding a company to the Entity List, the government is making it impossible for its products to be imported into the United States. They also can't be exported or passed from one organization to another.

The addition of NSO was first spotted by 9to5Mac, with countries in Russia and Singapore joining it.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has released a final rule adding four foreign companies to the Entity List for engaging in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. The four entities are located in Israel, Russia, and Singapore.NSO Group and Candiru (Israel) were added to the Entity List based on evidence that these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers. These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent.

While most people are highly unlikely to need to be concerned about Pegasus, those in positions of power or even just reporting on it could potentially be targeted. Journalists and activists have reportedly been targeted by Pegasus over the last few months alone.

Apple often touts its security as one of the best iPhone features when compared to Android, but Pegasus continues to find ways to be effective.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.