NSO Group Defaults in WhatsApp Phone Hacking Case

On March 2, Israel’s NSO Group Technologies Ltd. defaulted in an ongoing WhatsApp cyber-espionage case. The entry of default comes several months after Facebook and WhatsApp filed their complaint. Since NSO Group did not respond to WhatsApp and Facebook’s complaint, the judge entered default.

NSO and its parent company and codefendant Q Cyber Technologies had 21 days to respond after being served with the complaint on January 7.  The court received no documents from NSO, nor did they make an appearance in court. 

Facebook and WhatsApp accused NSO Group in October 2019 of using their Pegasus spyware to exploit a vulnerability in the WhatsApp code to send malicious software to cell phones, giving the NSO unauthorized access to thousands of devices. Targeted groups included “attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and other senior foreign government officials,” according to the underlying complaint. The New York Times reported in December 2018 that Saudi authorities used the NSO’s technology to spy on journalist Jamal Khashoggi before his murder.  This allegedly violated WhatsApp’s terms and conditions and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

WhatsApp and Facebook are represented by Cooley.