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Israel: NSO spyware company has $500m debt

November 24, 2021 at 1:50 pm

This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel’s NSO Group which features ‘Pegasus’ spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021 [JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli military spyware firm NSO Group is currently struggling to repay debt totalling $500 million as it faces cash flow issues following a US decision to blacklist the company, credit rating agency Moody’s reported yesterday.

The company is currently valued at over $1 billion, but sales have dropped following a decision by the US Commerce Department to blacklist the company based on evidence that it “developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, business people, activists, academics and embassy workers.”

Moody’s warned that if creditors insist on NSO paying its debts then there would be a real threat to its continued existence. It added that in June, NSO only had $29 million in cash reserves after drawing fully on its $30 million banking credit line. The agency estimates that NSO’s debt is 6.5 times its earnings this year.

READ: Apple sues Israel spyware company NSO

This crisis comes after a series of investigations coordinated by Forbidden Stories which revealed that Pegasus spyware developed by NSO Group was used by governments to target around 50,000 individuals, including some high profile people.

Moreover, Apple said yesterday that it had filed a lawsuit against NSO and its parent company OSY Technologies, in an effort to stop the spyware company from targeting any Apple devices. In its complaint filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Apple said that NSO’s tools were used in “concerted efforts in 2021 to target and attack Apple customers.” The company added that “US citizens have been under surveillance by NSO’s spyware on mobile devices that can and do cross international borders.”

NSO has apparently not yet replied to requests for comments on the lawsuit or the surveillance allegations.

Israel's Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel’s Pegasus spyware global weapon to silence critics? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]