Facebook-owned WhatsApp has sued Israeli security firm NSO Group for developing and injecting malware into its messaging service and using the same for spying on over 1,400 people.
The issue first came to fore in May, but now, WhatsApp head Will Cathcart has confirmed that they have the evidence to prove the firm's involvement.
Here's all about it.
First, you should know about the WhatsApp spyware attack
Back in May, a security company named Citizen Labs flagged a WhatsApp vulnerability that was being exploited by an NSO Group-made spyware.
It had alleged that the malicious program was being injected into phones through WhatsApp calls (even if you don't answer) and used for snooping on private messages, which were supposed to be end-to-end encrypted.
The attack drew major attention across the world.
Journalists, human-right activists among targets
While WhatsApp patched the vulnerability in May itself, the Citizen Labs' report indicated that the exploit developed by NSO Group, which is already known for making spying tools for governments, was targeted at journalists and human rights advocates.
Now, WhatsApp head Cathcart has confirmed this, noting that the spyware was targeted at over 1,400 people, including diplomats, political dissidents, journalists, and government officials.
WhatsApp also has evidence to prove NSO Group's involvement
Along with the confirmation, which came in a Washington Post opinion article, Cathcart also noted that they have evidence tying NSO Group to the attack.
Previously, the organization had denied any direct involvement with the use of its spyware on WhatsApp, but Cathcart alleged that the servers, services, and WhatsApp accounts used in the attack show direct links to the security group.
So, WhatsApp is suing the company now
Now, with enough evidence at hand, WhatsApp is suing NSO Group in a US federal court for injecting malware and snooping on the messages of its users.
"We are seeking to hold NSO accountable under US state and federal laws, including the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act," Cathcart said, adding that "their attempts to cover their tracks were not entirely successful."
NSO Group still holds the same position
With this case, WhatsApp not only seeks damages for the May attack but also hopes to stop NSO Group from doing something like this ever again - as part of its motto to protect users' privacy.
However, NSO Group is firm on its position and denied all the allegations "in the strongest possible terms". It also said it would fight these accusations.