The NSO Group is looking at shutting down its controversial Pegasus unit for good. Sources say the Israeli company has held talks with several investment funds, that include a refinancing or outright scale. It has also brought in advisers from Moelis & Co. to assist.
According to a Bloomberg report, the prospective new owners include two American funds. The funds would inject about $200 million in fresh capital to transform Pegasus into a strictly defensive cyber security services. Sources believe the funds would also be used to develop the Israeli company’s drone technology.
Pegasus has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Its misuse landed the parent company, NSO Group, at the center of high-profile privacy and human rights abuses cases. The Pegasus Project, a consortium of international media outlets, says a leaked list of some 50,000 phone numbers showed that governments around the world sought NSO’s cellphone hacking technology Pegasus to spy on people or mark them as potential targets, whether inside or beyond their own borders.
Reports revealed that the phone numbers selected by governments for surveillance belong to an array of potential targets, including political dissidents, human rights activists, 180 journalists in nearly two dozen countries, a Dubai princess on the run and the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and 14 heads of state.
The NSO Group continues to deny the snooping allegations. It said it sells technology to law enforcement and government agencies to prevent crime and terrorism. The Israeli company highlighted that it has ended contracts with clients that abused it. However, the US Commerce Department has blacklisted the company.
Furthermore, iPhone maker Apple is suing NSO Group for hacking into iPhones. Apple said it would start notifying users targeted by state-sponsored hacking.