UK plays host to 'Pegasus' mastermind Israeli spyware company NSO

Pegasus hacked WhatsApp

The British government is all set to host the infamous Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, which makes the Pegasus spyware, to market its surveillance technologies at a ‘secretivefair. The firm’s technology has allegedly been used by repressive regimes to spy on private messages of journalists and activists. The annual trade fair is organized by the Home Office and the Department for International Trade.

Crux of the Matter

Divine Horse or Destructive Spyware?
NSO’s flagship product is Pegasus, a program that can turn on a phone’s microphone and camera, crawl through emails and messages and collect location data. It specifically advertises its products to Middle Eastern and western intelligence agencies and says Pegasus is intended for governments to fight terrorism and crime. It was recently valued at $1bn in a leveraged buyout that involved the UK private equity fund Novalpina Capital.

Speculation around NSO
The group was reportedly sued last year in the US, by Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger after 1,400 of its users were hacked over a two-week period. The attackers were able to install the malicious code and surveillance software developed by NSO, on both iPhones and Android phones, by ringing up targets using the app’s phone call function. While the popular messaging app hurried to close the loophole, the Israeli company denied the allegations altogether as the Israeli Ministry of Defence was known to support it as well.

UK’s Exclusive Fair for VVIPs
In the past four years, the trade fair has included countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Hong Kong, whose human rights records have been criticized. The general public has been barred from the fairs. Whitehall memos show that the government has strict criteria for selecting who attends and exhibits. Brochures from previous years show how firms were seeking to sell equipment for many kinds of surveillance, from software that “intercepts” national phone and internet systems to traditional “bugs” that can be attached to cars or hidden in walls.

Road Ahead for NSO

The government will do all it can to help keep British people and British interests safe in the UK and overseas.

– Home Office Spokesperson

It is currently the subject of a lawsuit by international advocacy group Amnesty International, which alleges that the company attempted to hack into one of their employees smartphone. Last week, Reuters revealed that the FBI was also looking into NSO’s role in hacking U.S. residents and companies.


Spyware is a software that aims to gather information about a person or organization, without their knowledge, and send such information to another entity without the consumer’s consent. Furthermore, spyware asserts control over a device without the consumer’s knowledge, sending confidential information to another entity with the consumer’s consent, through cookies. It is mostly used for the stealing information and storing Internet users’ movements on the Web and serving up pop-up ads to Internet users. Whenever spyware is used for malicious purposes, its presence is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect. Some spyware, such as keyloggers, may be installed by the owner of a shared, corporate, or public computer intentionally in order to monitor users. More Info