Israel’s NSO Group, which makes controversial Pegasus spyware globally, said on Sunday that its chief executive, Shalev Hulio, would resign as part of a reorganization.
The indebted private company also said it would focus sales on countries belonging to the NATO alliance.
“NSO Group announced today that the company will be reorganized and CEO Shalev Hulio will step down,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
The company’s COO Yaron Shohat will now “take the lead” and manage the reorganization process, the spokesperson added.
The reorganization will “examine all aspects of its business, including streamlining its operations to ensure NSO remains one of the world’s leading high-tech cyber intelligence companies, with a focus on NATO member countries,” a reference to the 30-member political and military alliance. .
Pegasus spy software is used to infiltrate mobile phones and extract data or activate cameras or microphones.
NSO Group says the software is sold only to government agencies to target criminals and terrorists, and sales require Israeli government approval.
However, the spyware is alleged to have been deployed by foreign governments against dissidents, journalists, diplomats and members of the clergy. Its clients include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary and India.
In November 2021, the Biden administration placed the company on a US blacklist after determining that it had acted “against US foreign policy and national security interests.”
The new designation, which places NSO in the company of hackers from China and Russia, came three months after a consortium of journalists working with the French nonprofit group Forbidden Stories revealed multiple cases of journalists and activists who were hacked by foreign governments using the spyware, including US citizens.
The Guardian and other members of the consortium also revealed that the mobile phone numbers of Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and nearly his entire cabinet were included in a leaked list of people who were singled out as potential surveillance targets.
With Agence France-Presse