Israeli cybersecurity company Quadream has been accused of selling “zero-click” phone-hacking technology to Saudi Arabia that allows clients to easily hack targets using iPhones.
Led by a former Israeli military intelligence official, Quadream focuses on breaking into and hacking mobile phones, and provides tech solutions for those who want to extract data from smartphones.
Zero-click spyware allows an attacker to compromise an iPhone fully remotely without any interaction from the user, bypassing the need for social engineering entirely. It allows the hacker to take over a smartphone in real time without any interaction with the target, turning targets phones into remotely operated spying devices.
Malware researchers have said that Apple has quietly made changes in its new iOS 14.5 update that make zero-clicks much harder to carry out on iPhones.
Spyware is defined as unwanted software that infiltrates a computer or device, often without a person’s knowledge, stealing internet usage data and sensitive information or damaging the device.
Quadream is said to have provided its services to Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive and least democratic regimes in the Middle East, according to an exclusive report by Haaretz.
Haaretz said it got details of the dealings with Saudi Arabia through a sales deck intended for potential clients.
The deck revealed that Quadream used a Cyprus-based company called InReach to sell its services abroad. InReach, a stockholder in Quadrum, owns the main hacking tool — a virus called Reign — that actually infects target phones and has zero-click capabilities for iPhones.
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Another controversial hacker-for-hire Israeli firm, NSO Group, was also reported to have provided similar services to Saudi Arabia.
NSO Group was investigated in 2020 by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) based on suspicions that U.S. residents and companies may have been compromised for intelligence-gathering purposes.
According to NSO, its surveillance software products “help government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives around the globe.” However, critics have argued that governments use these tools to spy on other countries and invade the privacy of their citizens.
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