The move marks a sharp U-turn for Apple and emphasises the growing concern among tech companies about the proliferation of attacks on customers. Apple had previously downplayed the threat by the spyware.
In its complaint, Apple alleges that NSO’s Pegasus had been used to “attack a small number of Apple users worldwide with malicious malware and spyware”.
The Pegasus Project, which is an investigation into NSO by several media outlets, has recorded several examples in which NSO’s spyware was used to attack iPhone users. In some instances, a vulnerability in Apple’s iMessage feature was used against journalists, human rights activities, and others. Recently, NSO was blacklisted by the US government for acting “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”.
The lawsuit by Apple seeks damages from NSO for its alleged “flagrant violations of US federal and state law, arising out of its efforts to target and attack Apple and its users.”
NSO Group, however, insists its signature spyware has proven hugely beneficial to society. “Thousands of lives were saved around the world thanks to NSO Group’s technologies used by its customers,” a spokesperson for the NSO group said.