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Israel spyware NSO offered 'bags of cash' for access to US mobile phone network

The logo of Israeli cyber company NSO Group on November 11, 2021 in Sapir, Israel [Amir Levy/Getty Images]
The logo of Israeli cyber company NSO Group on November 11, 2021 in Sapir, Israel [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

Israeli spyware company, NSO Group, offered a US-based mobile security company "bags of cash" in exchange for access for an easily exploitable mobile phone network, according to a complaint that was made to the US Department of Justice by a whistleblower.

Whistleblower, Gary Miller, provided documents to prove the arrangement of a meeting in August 2017 between NSO and Mobileum, the firm in which he worked in a senior position to US Congressman, Ted Lieu, who raised the issue with the Department of Justice.

The Guardian and French media non-profit, Forbidden Stories, which are members of a media consortium investigating NSO Group known as the "Pegasus Project", also reported on the allegations yesterday.

The news outlets said NSO Group was trying to access a signalling network known as SS7.

"The privacy implications to Americans and national security implications to America of NSO Group accessing mobile operator signalling networks are vast and alarming," Lieu wrote in a letter to the Justice Department, according to The Guardian.

READ: Israel police admits spyware use raises legal questions

Meanwhile, NSO claims it had no business with the mobile security company, telling The Washington Post that the company "does not do business using cash as a form of payment."

Mobileum Chief Executive, Bobby Srinivasan, also issued a statement saying, "Mobileum does not have – and has never had – any business relationship with NSO Group".

However, Congressman, Ted Lieu, wrote on Twitter, "The NSO Group, which sells phone hacking software, tried to gain access to cellular networks by offering 'bags of cash' according to a whistleblower. I made a criminal referral to the Justice Department."

"And with the #SS7 security flaw in cell networks, no one's phone is safe."

Whistleblower, Gary Millernow,, currently works for the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, which tracks hacking and surveillance, including NSO Group's activities.

He told The Washington Post, "The NSO Group was specifically interested in the mobile networks. They stated explicitly that their product was designed for surveillance and it was designed to surveil not the good guys but the bad guys."

NSO has been involved in numerous scandals in recent years and has faced a deluge of international criticism over reports that its software has been used to target political dissidents, activists and journalists around the world.

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