An Israeli entrepreneur has described how his iPhone was hacked within minutes by a secretive Israeli firm without him clicking on any links.
The anonymous source told technology news website Motherboard that NSO Group “got everything” during a recent demonstration, about which he was not authorised to discuss.
The firm’s Pegasus surveillance software is used by some states to snoop on mobile phones, including Android and iPhone devices, with journalists and human rights activists among those targeted.
The entrepreneur said he brought two iPhones along the meeting and put one with a foreign number on the table, giving the company his number only.
He said it took “five or seven minutes” for the the contents of his phone to appear on a large display that was set up in the meeting room, adding that the firm also accessed his microphone, camera and GPS location.
“I see clicking on all kinds of icons: email icon, SMS icon, and other icons,” he told Motherboard. “And suddenly I saw all my messages in there and I saw all the email in there and they were capable to open any information that was on my [iPhone].”
The company, which employs hundreds of engineers, sells its software to autocrats around the world, but was hoisted from the shadow in 2016 after a detailed investigation by Citizen Labs, which found that its products had been used against some of the world’s most prominent human rights campaigners.
NSO says its products are used to combat terrorism, child abduction and other serious crimes, adding that the software cannot be used in the United States.