NSO Head: Pegasus does not allow tracking Israelis

Source: https://cobaltstrike.net/2022/03/30/nso-head-pegasus-does-not-allow-tracking-israelis/

The head of the Israeli spyware manufacturer NSO Group said that his company sold the Israeli police a lightweight version of the Pegasus spyware, which, however, unlike the international export version, was equipped with an access function to Israeli phones.

Recall that at the beginning of this year, information appeared in the media that the Israeli police had been using Pegasus for years to remotely hack into the smartphones of citizens of the country and secretly monitor them. Surveillance, which was the responsibility of a special department of the SIGINT cyber intelligence police department, was conducted without the permission of the court and control over what data is collected from the devices.

The police denied these reports. As shown by the investigation initiated by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, during which NSO logs on the purposes of customer surveillance were examined, media reports have no basis.

Nevertheless, NSO co-founder and executive director Shalev Julio said on Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM that the Israeli police used “not Pegasus, but a system called Saifan, which, in fact, is a lightweight version of Pegasus […] with fewer possibilities and a narrower purpose.”

According to Julio, the NSO provided, at the request of the government, its “audit logs” of Israelis who were being monitored by the police using spyware. This indirectly acknowledged that Saifan could hack Israeli cell phones – something that the NSO had long argued could not be done with Pegasus.

“Pegasus has a defense mechanism that prevents its use against Israeli numbers. Every package ever sold to a customer abroad cannot be used against Israeli numbers in any way. That’s how Pegasus works,” Julio explained.

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