CEO of Blacklisted Israeli Spyware Maker NSO Steps Down
The CEO of Israeli spyware company NSO Group has stepped down, according to an announcement made by the company Sunday. Former CEO Shalev Hulio will be replaced by COO Yaron Shohat, who will manage the company’s reorganization in the aftermath. The company is responsible for the controversial Pegasus spyware due to its usage against activists, journalists, and political figures. The NSO Group also announced that they plan to focus on sales to countries belonging to the NATO alliance. In the announcement, the spyware company stated that it plans to streamline its operations to ensure that it remains one of the world’s leaders in cyber intelligence.
The company was entangled in an investigation that occurred in July 2021 and ultimately revealed that its spyware products were sold to governments across the globe and subsequently used against human rights activists, humanitarians, journalists, and other groups. Although the company is privately owned, the Ministry of Defense in Israel is required to approve any export of products deemed to be cyberwarfare technologies. Therefore, it was asserted by privacy activists and political commentators that Israel’s political interests may have influenced the spyware’s sales. The company was added to a US export blacklist last year following the investigation, preventing American companies from purchasing the spyware.