Posted Jan 28, 2022, 7:59 PM
NSO, the publisher of the Pegasus spyware, is going to join the Rangers, the elite of the American army. According to the Israeli daily “Haaretz”, the American venture capital fund Integrity Partners, launched by former combat engineers, experts from the army’s cyber institute and pilots of Blackhawk helicopters, is in advanced discussions to buy Israeli society ostracized from the international community.
Accused of having sold its smartphone data capture licenses to dozens of governments for the purpose of massive espionage of opponents and political figures, the cyber expert was blacklisted by the United States in November. In the aftermath, NSO found itself almost unable to repay its debt of 500 million dollars contracted during its takeover by the European fund Novalpina.
Integrity Capital is ready to inject $300 million into the Israeli company, pressure the US administration to remove NSO from the blacklist, and counter legal proceedings from Apple, Meta, Google, Microsoft, Citizen Lab, or Amnesty again. But in return, the fund demands the complete reset of the company.
The remedy demanded by the American fund is radical. The plan is to end or restrict relationships with all former clients, bringing NSO’s revenue down to…zero. Instead of the current 37 business relationships with governments, says the Israeli daily, only five will be eligible: those of the “Fives Eyes” intelligence network, namely the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. And NSO will have to focus, at least in the restart phase, on defensive software only.
When questioned, NSO disagrees with the idea of being in the hands of a single buyer. “The company is generating great interest from a few US-based investment funds, and the company is in discussions with them. All other speculations are false”, reacts a spokesperson for the company to “Echos”.
But resale prospects have darkened in recent days. On the descent into hell of NSO, is grafted a new internal war, this time between Berkeley Research which took over the management of the fund Novalpina shareholder of NSO, and the founders of the cybersurveillance company, according to the Israeli financial daily “Globes”. The American manager obtained on Tuesday the appointment of a director for three companies indirectly affiliated with NSO. The decision was taken after a disagreement on the resale price of the fund’s shares in these companies to NSO executives. They hope to include them in the overall sale of the cyber company to maximize the price to the tune of $1 billion.
One of these companies Convexum manufactures systems capable of neutralizing drones remotely by breaking their communication system. Among their customers are the same as Pegasus, but also other authorities, such as airport authorities, which are not subject to restrictions. NSO argues that these companies have no offensive approach and that they will not be able to pay their employees at the beginning of February.