For 10 years the Israeli surveillance company NSO has been helping governments steal secrets. Today we look at how a small team of cyber-detectives helped expose them
Presented by Michael Safi with Stephanie Kirchgaessner and John Scott-Railton; produced by Joshua Kelly and Axel Kacoutié ; executive producers Nicole Jackson and Phil Maynard
Yesterday we told you about a major international investigation the Guardian has been working on with 16 media partners. It’s about a spyware company called NSO Group which has developed a piece of software called Pegasus that, once inside your phone, can turn it into a 24-hour surveillance device without you knowing.
Michael Safi hears from the Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner about the origin story of NSO Group – an Israeli tech startup that, so the story goes, in 2010 figured out a way to remotely access mobile phones after the founder became frustrated with the tech support available to him to fix his own faulty device. From there, the company developed what is now being called a military grade cyberweapon, Pegasus.
As NSO Group grew to become one of the world’s leading private surveillance companies, it was being tracked closely by a small band of researchers. In Canada, John Scott-Railton working for Citizen Lab has been a leading figure in helping to expose abuses of Pegasus software. And more recently Amnesty International’s digital forensics lab has led the way in pioneering methods to test individual devices for traces of Pegasus infection.