Microsoft Blasts NSO Group As Ruthless Cyber Mercenaries Hiding Behind Immunity Shields
The NSO Group is a technology and cybersecurity company or "mercenary," as Microsoft describes. NSO Group claims on its website that they create "technology that helps government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives around the globe." That is a rather noble-sounding description for someone who effectively manufactures digital weapons. The NSO Group is simply a seller of digital weapons, and could pose a risk to everyone in the world when targeted.
The first major issue with the Pegasus or other cybersecurity software being sold is that it can fall into a malicious actor's hands. Government created or owned cybersecurity and espionage tools leaked before, such as the exploit called EternalBlue discovered by the NSA, which then powered the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017. As Microsoft explains, "Lowering the barrier for access to these weapons would guarantee that such catastrophes would be repeated."
Finally, "companies like the NSO Group threaten human rights whether they seek to or not." When journalists or human rights defenders cannot do their jobs without fear, democracy, and human rights are smothered. As Microsoft explains, "Privacy is fundamental to the ability of journalists to report, of dissidents to speak their voices and of democracy to flourish and these tools threaten their rights and their lives."
With these issues in mind, private-sector offensive actors, such as the NSO Group, are incredibly dangerous to everyone. Human rights and fundamental freedoms are trampled on when companies like this operate in legal darkness. Over 164 years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote that "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." This sentiment remains true today in the age of cyber-threats, and people need to be reminded of it when profit and greed begin to outweigh peoples' liberty.