The US is sanctioning an Israeli spyware company, NSO, by putting it on a trade blacklist, the Washington Post reports.
According to the report, the NSO Group was accused of supplying technology to foreign governments to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics and embassy workers.
Last July, NSO Group had been accused of assisting despotic regimes in targeting journalists, political dissidents and human rights activists. The Israeli firm, accused of supplying spyware to governments, has been linked to a list of 50,000 Smartphone numbers, including those of activists, journalists, business executives and politicians around the world.
The US secretary of commerce, Gina Raimondo, said: "The United States is committed to aggressively using export controls to hold companies accountable that develop traffic or use technologies to conduct malicious activities that threaten the cyber security of members of civil society, dissidents, government officials and organisations here and abroad."
Raimondo also added a Russian company, Positive Technologies, and Singapore-based Computer Security Initiative Consultancy to its list, alleging that they "traffic in cyber tools" used to gain unauthorised access to computer systems.