Israel’s NSO may sell company or shut down Pegasus spyware unit

14 Dec 2021

Image: © Romain TALON/

Media reports suggest the spyware maker is inching closer to defaulting on $500m in loans after being blacklisted by the US last month.

Israeli spyware firm NSO Group is reportedly considering selling the company or shutting down its controversial Pegasus unit amid mounting international backlash.

NSO develops surveillance technologies that are intended for use by governments and law enforcement agencies to crack down on serious crimes and terrorism by tracking the phones of targeted individuals and accessing private information.

However, its Pegasus spyware has been reportedly used to target journalists, politicians, diplomats, chief executives, human rights activists and private citizens, according to an Amnesty International-led investigation.

Now, the company may be succumbing to growing international pressure. Bloomberg reports that NSO is considering selling its business and is in talks with several investment funds, based on comments from individuals familiar with the matter.

International pressure

The company is also reported to be considering shutting down its Pegasus spyware unit, after NSO Group was blacklisted by the US Chamber of Commerce last month for enabling “transnational repression” with its spyware tools. According to the Financial Times, the company has edged closer to defaulting on $500m in loans.

US officials and Amnesty International aren’t the only ones concerned about Pegasus spyware. Last month, Apple said it was suing NSO in a bid to “hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users”. It wants to ban the company from using any Apple software, services or devices.

In its legal complaint, Apple claimed to provide new information on ForcedEntry, a now-patched vulnerability that had been used to infect Apple devices with the Pegasus spyware in a ‘zero-click’ exploit.

Headquartered in Herzliya, NSO has come a long way since its January consideration of an IPO in Tel Aviv at an estimated valuation of $2bn. In 2019, its founders, management and a private investment firm jointly bought control of NSO at a valuation of $1bn.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic