Hacker hacks iPhone hacking company’s secret hacks


They say turnabout is fair play, but iPhone users are caught in the middle when iOS hacking tools are stolen.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Israel’s NSO Group makes a business of hacking iPhones and Android devices.  In a reversal of roles, it was hacked by one of its own employees and valuable intellectual property was stolen.

While its tempting to lean back an enjoy this company’s discomfiture, the stolen property was NSO’s phone hacking tools, which were then offered on the dark web.

While it’s easy to criticize companies that market iPhone hacking tools, they don’t knowingly sell them to criminals. This employee was attempting to do exactly that.

How the NSO hack went down

An unnamed 38-year-old senior programmer has been indicted by Israel’s attorney general, according to Forbes.

The employee disabled the security software on his computer, then copied  the source code for NSO Group’s phone hacking tools onto an external drive.

Next, he went to the dark web and offered the code for as much as $50 million. He claimed to be a hacker who had broken into NSO’s servers.

NSO hacker apprehended

However, one of the people he contacted reported him to the Israeli Justice Ministry.

“Within a very short time the former employee was arrested and the stolen property was secured,” an NSO spokesperson told Forbes. No IP [Intellectual Property] or company materials have been shared with any third party or otherwise leaked, and no customer data or information was compromised.”

Among other crimes, the former employee was charged with conduct that could harm state security because the Israeli army uses NSO Group’s hacking tools.

This is only one of a number off companies that focus on offering phone hacking tools and services. Take a look at the iPhone hacking van that appeared at a recent trade show.


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