NSO Chief Steps Down As Israeli Spyware Firm Restructures

As part of a corporate restructuring, the embattled Israeli spyware manufacturer NSO’s CEO has resigned, the company stated on Sunday. The alleged abuse of NSO’s flagship Pegasus phone spying software by clients has been linked to a number of incidents. The corporation was subject to limitations last year after the U.S. claimed its tools had been used to “conduct international repression.” Any misconduct is denied by NSO. One of the company’s founders and CEO Shalev Hulio announced his resignation in a statement.

In the interim, while the company searches for a new CEO, Yaron Shohat, the chief operating officer, will oversee the reorganization. Hulio will stay with the company, according to a company official who spoke on the record under the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak about the reorganization plans. 100 individuals, or around 13% of NSO’s workforce, would be let go, the official stated. Pegasus enables operators to covertly access contacts, messages, and movement history on a target’s mobile device.

According to the business, Pegasus is only offered to foreign countries after being approved as a weapon for arresting criminals and terrorists by Israel’s Defense Ministry. It claims to have safeguards in place to avoid misuse, but detractors claim these measures are insufficient, and NSO has acknowledged it is powerless over who its clients choose to monitor. It claims that it does not have access to the data that is gathered.

Critics claim that users have abused Pegasus to monitor journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents everywhere from Mexico to Saudi Arabia to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. These critics include foreign scholars and human rights organizations.NSO withholds client information. The business has admitted, however, that it cut off at least seven customers for misusing its technologies. Authorities from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico are allegedly among them.

The company will investigate “all parts of its business, including restructuring its operations to guarantee NSO remains one of the world’s premier high-tech cyber intelligence organizations, focusing on NATO-member countries,” according to a statement released on Sunday. Apple and Facebook are suing NSO as well, claiming that the Israeli company broke into their devices.

NSO has suffered as a result of the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to place it on its “entity list,” which has restricted its access to American parts and technology. The designation is being contested by NSO. A late-year decision by Israel to tighten its oversight of cyber exports has also affected the industry. The number of nations that can purchase Israeli cyber software has decreased from over 100 to 37 as a result of that decision, which was made in response to accusations that Israel’s control of the digital surveillance business was too loose.