Critics have previously claimed that NSO Group spyware was misued to target the media and other innocent people, but new findings might have revealed the extent of that misuse. The Washington Post has shared a multi-partner investigation claiming that NSO’s Pegasus software was used to successfully hack 37 phones, including journalists, activists and the two women closest to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The victims were on a 2016-era list of 50,000 phone numbers from countries believed to conduct both extensive surveillance and use of NSO tools, such as Hungary and Saudi Arabia. The list included 1,000 people who didn’t obviously fit the software’s intended criminal targets, including over 600 politicians, 189 journalists, 85 humans rights activists and 65 business executives.
Roughly a dozen Americans working overseas were on the list, but the investigation partners couldn’t conduct forensic studies on most of their phones or find evidence of successful hacks. NSO previously said Pegasus couldn’t be used to snoop on American devices.