Israeli surveillance software company NSO Group has temporarily blocked several government clients around the world from using its Pegasus spyware as the company investigates its possible misuse, Washington-based non-profit media outlet NPR reported.
The development also follows raids on some offices of the NSO Group on Wednesday by Israeli government agencies “to begin assessing” security breach allegations against the company’s Pegasus spyware.
According to NPR, NSO Group suspending supply of the software is in response to an investigation by the Pegasus Project, a consortium of media outlets that reported that the company’s Pegasus spyware was linked to hacks and potential surveillance of telephones of people including journalists, human rights activists and heads of state.
NPR reported that the company employee would not name or quantify the government agencies — or their countries — that NSO has recently suspended from using its spyware, asserting that Israeli defence regulations prohibit the company from identifying its clients.
NSO says it has 60 customers in 40 countries, all of them intelligence agencies, law enforcement bodies and militaries. It says in recent years, before the media reports, it blocked its software from five governmental agencies, including two in the past year, after finding evidence of misuse, NPR reported.
NSO’s ongoing internal investigation checked some of the telephone numbers of people that NSO’s clients reportedly marked as potential targets. “Almost everything we checked, we found no connection to Pegasus,” the employee told NPR, declining to elaborate on potential misuse NSO may have uncovered.