Israel scraps list of countries buying cyber technology after Pegasus Row: report

Israel has reduced the list of countries licensed to buy cyber technology to just 37 out of 102. (File)

Jerusalem:

Israel has lowered its list of eligible countries to buy its cyber technologies after concerns over possible misuse abroad of a hacking tool sold by Israeli company NSO Group, Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist reported Thursday.

The newspaper, which did not disclose its sources, said Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries now banned from importing Israeli cyber technology. The list of countries licensed to buy it had been reduced to just 37 states, down from 102.

Israel’s Defense Ministry, in response to the report, said in a statement it is taking “appropriate steps” when the terms of use set out in the export licenses it issues are violated, but did not confirm that any licenses had been revoked.

Israel has been under pressure to curb spyware exports since July, when a group of international news organizations reported that NSO’s Pegasus tool had been used to hack into phones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists in several countries.

Those reports prompted Israel to review the Ministry of Defense’s cyber export policy.

Morocco and the UAE, which both normalized relations with Israel last year, as well as Saudi Arabia and Mexico were among the countries where Pegasus has been linked to political surveillance, according to Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which monitors studies.

NSO denies any wrongdoing and says it only sells its instruments to governments and law enforcement agencies and has taken precautions to prevent misuse.

Earlier this month, US officials blacklisted NSO for selling spyware to governments that misused it. The company said it was dismayed at the decision because its technologies “support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime.”

NSO has also faced lawsuits and criticism from major tech companies accusing the company of exposing their customers to hacking. Apple Inc was the last to sue NSO this week.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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