The phones of U.S. State Department officials were hacked using NSO Group software, Reuters reported Friday. Sources told Reuters that the cyberattacks hit officials with ties to Uganda. The hackers have not yet been identified.
According to Reuters, an NSO spokesperson responded with a written statement that "if our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO's tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place."
But NSO Group software has a long history of being used for malicious purposes. The Israeli-based firm developed the Pegasus software that has been used to hack the phones of business executives, journalists and activists worldwide. Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department blacklisted the spyware firm for for supplying spyware and trafficking cyber tools.
Victims of the latest cyberattack were alerted directly by Apple, and sources told Reuters the NSO software was able to exploit a flaw in Apple's graphics processor. Apple sued NSO Group last week for allegedly helping customers break into Apple phones. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit also cleared the way for Meta's lawsuit against NSO Group early last month for infecting hundreds mobile devices via WhatsApp.
A senior Biden official told Reuters that the administration is focused on pursuing companies like NSO Group, and the Israeli embassy also released a statement that the attacks would be a breach of their export licensing rules if true.