U.S. Spies Backed A Blacklisted Company, Watchdog Group Finds

(PatriotWise.com)- The American defense contractor L3 Harris attempted to buy the Pegasus spying and hacking technology from a banned Israeli company, and US government officials backed the potential acquisition. That support was conditional on NSO Group allowing for their ‘zero days’ technology, a piece of tech that will enable Pegasus to hack into cell phones, to be sold to the so-called other members of Five Eyes, an intelligence community featuring the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

The White House said in a statement that the deal could ‘pose a severe counterintelligence and security risk to U.S. personnel and systems. An anonymous US government official said that an L3 Harris representative told the Biden administration that the talks were off.

Lockdown Mode is a new security feature that Apple introduced in July for its iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers to protect users from cyberattacks similar to Pegasus.

This fall, Apple will roll out its next software update, including the Lockdown Mode feature.

When the Lockdown Mode is enabled on a device, access to some websites, applications, and services is limited for safety reasons, while others are disabled. Incoming invites and service requests, such as FaceTime calls, will be prohibited if the user has not already initiated a call or request with the person making the invitation or request.

US government agencies were contacted by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyberweapons firm, multiple times between 2019 and last summer over a possible deal involving Pegasus. The firm has been accused of aiding human rights abuses in nations across the globe and demonstrated a new system, called ‘Phantom,’ that could hack into any phone nationwide.

Although the nation’s top law enforcement organization ultimately decided not to buy or obtain the spyware, an FBI spokesperson told the Times that investing in such technologies can “protect both the American people and our civil liberties” in addition to helping to “combat crime.”

Many explanations have been put up as to why the FBI chose not to purchase the device-hacking tool, but foremost among them is the ongoing litigation and controversy against the software distribution company at the time of talks.