Nov 4, 2021
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US sanctions NSO Group and three others for spyware and exploit sales

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The U.S. has sanctioned four companies located in Israel, Russia, and Singapore for the development of spyware or the sale of hacking tools used by state-sponsored hacking groups.
Israeli companies NSO Group and Candiru are being sanctioned for creating and selling spyware used to target journalists and activists. Positive Technologies in Russia and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE. LTD. in Singapore are being sanctioned for the trafficking of hacking tools and exploits.
The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is adding the four companies to the Entity List tomorrow, November 4th, preventing the export, reexport, or transfer of the sanctioned company’s products or services.
Israeli spyware companies NSO Group and Candiru have been added to the Entity List for supplying software used to spy on government officials, journalists, and activists.
“Specifically, investigative information has shown that the Israeli companies NSO Group and Candiru developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used this tool to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers,” reads the Department of Commerce’s final ruling to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).
Positive Technologies (Russia) and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE. LTD. (Singapore) have been added for the trafficking of hacking tools and exploits used by state-sponsored hacking groups to gain unauthorized access to corporate networks worldwide.
“The ERC determined that Positive Technologies, located in Russia, and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE. LTD., located in Singapore, be added to the Entity List based on their engagement in activities counter to U.S. national security,” explains the final ruling.
“Specifically, these entities traffic in cyber exploits used to gain access to information systems, threatening the privacy and security of individuals and organizations worldwide.”
Positive Technologies was already sanctioned in April 2021 for allegedly providing aid to the Russian FSB in cyberattacks against U.S. interests.
As a result of this action, companies wishing to export, reexport, or transfer items must receive a license from BIS. However, this license has a “presumption of denial,” meaning the U.S. government will deny it in almost all cases.
“The United States is committed to aggressively using export controls to hold companies accountable that develop, traffic, or use technologies to conduct malicious activities that threaten the cybersecurity of members of civil society, dissidents, government officials, and organizations here and abroad,” shared U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo regarding these new sanctions.
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