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Israel: computer company red-flagged by US

March 27, 2023 at 12:46 pm

Illustration file picture shows a man typing on a computer keyboard, 19 September 2019 [REUTERS/Kacper Pempel]

Israeli technology company CNG Labs was warned by the US on Friday when it was added to Washington’s “red-flag” list. The list includes companies, organisations and individuals in foreign countries whose equipment cannot be entirely verified as being destined for legitimate customers to be used for legitimate purposes.

Those listed are often believed to be involved in activities threatening US national security, such as weapons proliferation, terrorism support or human rights abuses. Fourteen Chinese companies were added to the red flag list prior to the inclusion of CNG Labs.

“Enforcing our export controls is a crucial part of protecting American national security,” US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves is reported as saying by Reuters following the announcement to add the Chinese firms to the red flag list. “We are committed to using all of the tools at our disposal to establish how advanced US technology is being used around the globe.”

Details about CNG Labs reported in Haaretz shows that it is a computer store in Kiryat Shmona that provides “service for all kinds of laptops.” The company has been in trouble before for allegedly selling dual-use technology which could be used for civilian purposes, such as graphic cards in laptop computers or military applications in drones, for example, or for use in advanced computer systems in the defence industries.

Dual-use technology is supervised under the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies. Israel is not a party to the agreement, but it says that it observes its terms.

Read: 50,000 phones on target list in global hacking scandal involving Israel’s NSO Group

CNG Labs’ inclusion in the red-flag list makes it the third Israeli firm to face a public reprimand from the US; Washington also blacklisted spyware firms the NSO Group and Candiru. Harsher sanctions were imposed on the spyware firm than those imposed on CNG Labs. Being flagged constitutes a warning, a “red flag” rather than a place on the blacklist, which entails being banned outright.

Israel’s NSO Group was accused of supplying technology to foreign governments to target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics and embassy workers for malicious purposes. Candiru also offers hacking tools used to break into computers and servers as well as technology for breaking into mobile devices.