Israel can mine data from social media

Agence France-Presse . Jerusalem | Published: 00:00, Jul 21,2019


An Israeli spyware firm thought to have hacked WhatsApp in the past denied a report Friday that it had boasted to clients that it can scoop user data from servers run by technology titans.

The Financial Times wrote that NSO Group had ‘told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch’.

An NSO spokesperson, responding in a written statement to AFP’s request for comment, denied the allegation.

‘There is a fundamental misunderstanding of NSO, its services and technology,’ it said.

‘NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure as listed and suggested in today’s FT article.’

Amazon and Google told AFP that they were investigating the report, but had so far found no evidence that the software had breached their systems or customer accounts.

‘We’ve found no evidence of access to Google accounts or systems, and we’re continuing our investigation,’ a spokesman for the California-based internet giant said.

‘We automatically protect users from security threats and we encourage them to use tools like our Security Checkup, 2-step verification, and our Advanced Protection Program, if they believe they may be at especially high risk of attack.’

Amazon and Facebook stressed that customer security is a priority and that they were continuing to look into the claims.

‘The best defence against this specific type of targeted attack is to maintain a healthy device,’ Microsoft senior director Jeff Jones said in response to an AFP inquiry, saying the firm’s systems ‘are continually evolving to provide the best protections to our customers.’

Cloud service users who suspect their smartphones or other devices have been compromised can reduce their risk with steps such as using account access ‘tokens’ that expire after a short time, Jones said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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