Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Israeli Spyware Infected Cellphones Via WhatsApp: Reports

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Spyware reported to have been developed by an Israeli cyber company was used to infect targeted mobile phones through a vulnerability in the popular WhatsApp messaging program.

Among those reportedly targeted were journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. It also reportedly was found on the phone of a close friend of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The spyware was able to compromise personal cellphones through the app’s voice-calling function, even if the call was not answered.

The Financial Times identified the firm as NSO Group, based in Herzliya in central Israel. CNN also quoted what it identified as a source familiar with the investigation into the software attacks who said the firm that created the spyware is NSO Group.

In a statement provided to CNN on Monday, NSO said, “Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”

The statement also said that “NSO’s technology is licensed to authorized government agencies for the sole purpose of fighting crime and terror. The company does not operate the system, and after a rigorous licensing and vetting process, intelligence and law enforcement determine how to use the technology to support their public safety missions.”

WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users around the world. The company has issued a patch for the vulnerability.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.