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Pegasus spyware maker NSO is burning cash and considering closure

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

What you need to know

  • NSO Group is reportedly struggling for cash and is considering a sale.
  • The company behind the Pegasus spyware is facing pressure from the United States as well as Apple.

NSO Group, the outfit behind the now infamous Pegasus spyware, is reportedly burning through money and considering closing down the Pegasus unit and selling the entire company amid pressure from multiple angles.

According to a new Bloomberg report, NSO is struggling for money following the news that the company has been listed as a national security threat by the United States. Apple also recently filed a lawsuit against NSO relating to its creation of the Pegasys spyware.

As a result of all this, NSO is considering shuttering the Pegasus spyware outfit as well as selling the company as a whole.

Talks have been held with several investment funds about moves that include a refinancing or outright sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. The company has brought in advisers from Moelis & Co. to assist, and lenders are getting advice from lawyers at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, the people said.

Notably, the same report suggests that one of the outfits keen to buy NSO could use the know-how behind Pegasus to turn it into a defensive tool, rather than an offensive one. As a result, Pegasus could become a force for good — as unlikely as that might sound.

The prospective new owners include two American funds that have discussed taking control and closing Pegasus, one of the people said. Under that scenario, the funds would then inject about $200 million in fresh capital to turn the know-how behind Pegasus into strictly defensive cyber security services.

It seems unlikely that many people will feel too badly for NSO for obvious reasons here, although it's important to remember that the company likely employs a ton of people that know little to nothing about Pegasus and what it's being used for.

With security being one of the best iPhone features according to Apple's own marketing campaigns, the loss of Pegasus would definitely be something celebrated within the halls of Apple Park, that's for sure.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

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.