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The New NSO Group Smartphone Hacking Tech

NSO Group, the surveillance vendor best known for selling hacking technology to authoritarian governments, including Saudi Arabia, also tried to sell its products to local U.S. police, according to documents obtained by Motherboard.

The news provides the strongest evidence yet of NSO's attempt to enter the U.S. market, and shows apparent appetite from U.S. police for such tools, with one law enforcement official describing the hacking technology as "awesome."

"Turn your target's smartphone into an intelligence gold mine," a brochure for the hacking product, called Phantom, reads. The brochure was made by Westbridge Technologies, "the North American branch of NSO Group," it says.

You can review the sales pitch here:

A 0-click attack requires no interaction from the target. A 1-click attack requires the target to click something the NSO client sends to the phone; a link delivered via text message, for example. The brochure adds that the system supported the iPhone and various other models of phones from manufacturers like Samsung.

In the brochure, Westbridge says Phantom can "overcome encryption, SSL, proprietary protocols and any hurdle introduced by the complex communications world." Sections of the Department of Justice have repeatedly pushed for so-called backdoors in both encryptions that protects data at rest, like a locked iPhone, and chat programs that protect communications, like Facebook Messenger. Although expensive, Westbridge's offer shows other technological solutions do exist.

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