Military and Government Officials From US Allies Victims of WhatsApp Hack

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Activists, however, say governments misuse NSO's products to target human rights defenders, journalists and critics.

The Pegasus spyware requires you to click an exploit link, enabling the hacker to use known vulnerabilities in WhatsApp to penetrate security features on the phone.

"NSO is a private player using capabilities that Israelis have, thousands of people are in the cyber field, but there is no Israeli government involvement here, everyone understands that, this is not about the state of Israel", Elkin told 102.FM Tel Aviv Radio.

NSO Group has countered that it does not allow its software to be used for any illegal surveillance and only sells its tools to legit governments and agencies that investigate terrorism and crime.

Pegasus has been unleashed against Mexican political activists and targeted at the human rights-focused NGO Amnesty International in a spearphishing attack.

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The company has received the correspondence and will reply, one of the persons said.

"We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens", he tweeted.

"Social messaging platforms are answerable to national security agencies is something the government has been asking for in the past", a senior government official said on Friday.

While the messaging giant did not disclose the details or the number of people affected in India, the company confirmed that Indian users were among those contacted by the company.

In its lawsuit filed by Whatsapp, the company has accused the spyware agency of violating the laws of US and California.

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Scroll has added two more lawyers who have come forward to the list: Chhattisgarh-based Shalini Gera (Delhi University LLB, and part of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group) and Chandigarh-based Ankit Grewal (2012 JGLS Sonepat LLB), besides at least 12 other activists.

Reports indicate that over 20 Indians were alerted about their phones being placed under surveillance for two weeks in May this year, in the run up to the nation's parliamentary elections. The Indian Express reported the development on Thursday. Among these numerous activists were part of the Bhima Koregaon movement. They did not have to pick up the phone in order to be exploited. The company has claimed that the phones were hacked through missed calls alone. There is rampant spyware hacking in this country. "Later when I tried calling him, he said that he was busy", the lawyer told TNM.

WhatsApp managed to tie certain WhatsApp accounts used during the attacks back to NSO, as it describes in the complaint. Experts contend that surveillance powers in India are not being reconciled with the reality of the Supreme Court's privacy judgment delivered by a ninejudge bench, and that there is no movement for surveillance reforms either through judicial oversight or parliamentary reporting. The ministry of home affairs (MHA) too responded to WhatsApp spying controversy.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia policy director and senior worldwide counsel at Access Now, said hacking is a criminal offence under the IT Act.

WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO Group on Wednesday, alleging it was behind cyber-attacks that infected devices in April and May.

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However government sources said: "WhatsApp had given information to CERT-IN, a government agency.[however] it is a communication in pure technical jargon without any mention of Pegasus or the extent of breach".

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