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In multiple allied countries of the US, senior government officials were targeted earlier this year with hacking software that used Facebook Inc.’s owned WhatsApp to take over users’ phones, according to some that are familiar with the investigation.Sources also say that a significant portion of those hacked were high-profile government and military officials. Victims were spread out through 20 countries and five continents, and many are US allies.
WhatsApp filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Israeli developer, NSO Group. The allegations are that the NSO Group build and sold a hacking platform that honed in on a flaw in the WhatsApp servers, allowing them to hack into the cellphones of the users. There were at least 1,400 users hacked between April, 29, 2019, and May, 10, 2019. It’s possible that the number of people hacked could be higher, as Reuters was sent photographs from a London-based human rights lawyer showing attempts to break into his phone as early as April 1.
Although it isn’t clear who exactly used the software to do the hacking, the NSO says it sells its spyware exclusively to government customers.