Microsoft seeks Biden's backing in fight against Israeli spyware
Microsoft's President Brad Smith has warned that private companies who engineer cybersecurity attacks, such as NSO Group, help proliferate cyber-weapons.
This means more countries can deploy cyber-attacks, including some against journalists and human rights activists, Smith said according to a Guardian report.
"[This industry] generates cyber-attack proliferation to other governments that have the money but not the people to create their own weapons. In short, it adds another significant element to the cybersecurity threat landscape," Smith said.
About 100 of the targets were members of civil society, including journalists, diplomats, senior government officials, and human rights campaigners, WhatsApp claimed.
NSO Group has denied any involvement in the alleged targeting of civil society.
The Israeli firm has also argued in US courts that it is immune from US law against hacking because it acts on behalf of foreign governments.
While a judge ruling on the case has largely dismissed the defence, NSO has appealed that decision to a higher appeals court.
Smith said Microsoft was joining other technology companies in "opposing this interpretation". It is expected to formally do so in an amicus brief."The Biden/Harris administration should weigh in with a similar view," Smith urged.
Founded in 2010 by Israelis Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie, NSO Group is based in the Israeli hi-tech hub of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. It says it employs 600 people in Israel and around the world.
The Israeli firm says it only licenses its software to governments for "fighting crime and terror" and that it investigates credible allegations of misuse.
However, the company has been in the headlines since 2016 when researchers accused it of helping spy on an activist in the United Arab Emirates.
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