WhatsApp Sues Israeli Firm Over Cyber-attacks Against Human Rights Activists

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging applications to date. Its convenience is appreciated by most users. Surprisingly, the company is now entering a lawsuit against a cyber weapons firm. 

It is rather surprising to see WhatsApp get involved in legal proceedings. 

A Bold Move by WhatsApp

The company feels NSO Group has performed attacks on various individuals. Victims include journalists, lawyers, and academics. The Israeli firm violated American law, according to WhatsApp officials. 

In the lawsuit, WhatsApp claims NSO sold technology sued to target mobile phones of over 1,400 users of the messaging application across 20 different countries. These attacks were executed between April and May of 2019.

As part of the lawsuit, the company demands a permanent injunction against NSO. If that is granted, it will prevent the Israeli firm from accessing WhatsApp and Facebook computer systems for an indefinite period. 

It is the first time an encrypted messaging provider takes this course of action. However, the firm feels NSO went too far by attacking these individuals. 

They also claim to have evidence in the form of an NSO employee acknowledging WhatsApp‘s countermeasures proved to be very effective. 

Uncovering the victims of these attacks was made possible with the help of Citizen Lab. This academic research group was instrumental in discovering the technology used to pull off these attacks.  

This incident affecting WhatsApp’s users is not entirely surprising. The company confirmed a vulnerability existed that could let criminals install surveillance software on mobile devices. That security flaw was disclosed six months ago. It is unclear if NSO took advantage of this weakness.