Facebook wanted to buy Pegasus spyware in 2017 to monitor iPhone users

nanoguy

Posts: 792   +12
Staff member

An ongoing court battle has surfaced an interesting piece of information that, if proven true, could result in another scar on Facebook's public image.

Back in October 2019, Facebook sued Israeli firm NSO group for allegedly facilitating a hack on several high-profile WhatsApp users on behalf of unnamed government clients. This involved a sophisticated attack that used fake WhatsApp servers in order to make the target devices easier to breach.

NSO is known for licensing its infamous Pegasus spyware tool to whomever wants the ability to steal data from your Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook accounts, not to mention everything that's stored on your phone.

Court documents filed this week and spotted by Vice have revealed that Facebook representatives approached NSO in 2017 with the intention of using their software on iPhone and iPad users.

Interestingly, the social giant had very little interest in using it as hacking tool, but was exploring the idea of harnessing it to effectively monitor iOS users, which is notoriously more difficult than targeting Android users. The proposed deal would have had Facebook pay a fee for every user it would be able to track through Pegasus.

According to court filings, Facebook at the time was "concerned that its method for gathering user data through Onavo Protect was less effective on Apple devices than on Android devices." NSO CEO Shalev Hulio refused to license Pegasus for that purpose, so Facebook went ahead and launched Onavo without that functionality.

Of course, even without Pegasus to give it superpowers, Onavo was built as a VPN that secured your internet activity and made it obscure for everyone but Facebook. This eventually led to its removal on both Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store.

As for NSO, the company says it chose not to sell Pegasus to Facebook as the latter "is a private entity and not a sovereign government or government agency for national security and law enforcement purposes and therefore does not meet NSO's customer criteria."

In the meantime, Facebook made not one but two apps to collect data on you and pay for it upfront. One is called Study from Facebook and looks at how you use apps, and the other is Viewpoints, which pays you to take short surveys.

Permalink to story.

 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,999   +5,604
If you want to avoid being tracked, not only must you leave your phone home but you also need to leave your smartwatch (some smartwatches have LTE and bluetooth).

You also need to wear a facemask - to avoid face detection cameras.

You also need to carry only cash and ride a bike rather than a car so your plates can't give you away.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,133   +3,008
The lenghts you'd have to go through to have some online privacy make modern tech not even worth having. You'd have to switch your operating system, maybe sub to a VPN, ditch your smartphone completely, resist using any social media so might as well move to a forest and begin your new life as Tarzan. It doesn't have to be like that, it can be fought but we're too sedated with garbage.
 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,084
If you want to avoid being tracked, not only must you leave your phone home but you also need to leave your smartwatch (some smartwatches have LTE and bluetooth).

You also need to wear a facemask - to avoid face detection cameras.

You also need to carry only cash and ride a bike rather than a car so your plates can't give you away.

Yeah, I unfortunately bought a Garmin watch. What they don't tell you is that to use basically any of its features, you have to store all of your personal health information out on the internet. You also need to have a "smart" phone and have their app installed and running all the time - with a login account with your personal information. What they also don't tell you? If you go anywhere without cell service, your "smart" watch basically loses all functionality, such as when you go mountain climbing. How *****ic is that? Stay away from Garmin.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,999   +5,604
Yeah, I unfortunately bought a Garmin watch. What they don't tell you is that to use basically any of its features, you have to store all of your personal health information out on the internet. You also need to have a "smart" phone and have their app installed and running all the time - with a login account with your personal information. What they also don't tell you? If you go anywhere without cell service, your "smart" watch basically loses all functionality, such as when you go mountain climbing. How *****ic is that? Stay away from Garmin.


All of them are like that unless they have LTE built in.