Israel to bar Saudi Arabia, UAE, Morocco from importing its cyber tech

The list of eligible countries to purchase these technologies has been reduced to just 37, down from 102.

Israel has reduced its list of countries that can buy its cyber technologies after concerns about the possible misuse of a hacking program sold by the Israeli group (NSO) specialized in developing spyware, Israel’s Calcalist financial newspaper reported on Thursday.

Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are among the countries that will now be barred from importing Israeli cyber technologies.

The list of eligible countries to purchase these technologies has been reduced to just 37, down from 102.

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The Israeli Ministry of Defense responded to the report with a statement, saying that it takes “appropriate steps” when the terms of use stipulated in the export licenses it issues are violated, but it did not go so far as to confirm the cancellation of any licenses.

Lawsuits, financial blacklists

Since July 2021, Israel has been under pressure to curb spyware exports, after a group of international news organizations revealed that NSO Group’s Pegasus software was used to hack the phones of journalists, government officials and human rights activists in several countries.

Earlier this month, the US department of commerce placed NSO and another Israeli spyware company, Candiru, on a commercial blacklist for selling spyware to governments that “misused” it.

NSO has also faced lawsuits and criticism from major technology companies who accuse it of exposing their customers to hacking. Apple on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Israeli company over the use of the Pegasus spyware to attack users of the technology giant.

Apple also said it wants to permanently prevent NSO from using any Apple software, services or hardware, a move that could make the company’s spyware product worthless.

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