Poland bought NSO hacking tools shortly after Netanyahu met Polish PM - report

Reports of the Polish government using NSO’s spyware against the opposition surfaced in 2019 and again in early 2020.

 A man walks past the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
A man walks past the logo of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Poland’s Central Anticorruption Bureau bought NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware for hacking cellphones in 2017, not long after then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, according to Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

In mid-December, a joint investigation by the Associated Press and the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab concluded that the cellphones of three individuals associated with Poland’s opposition were hacked using NSO’s Pegasus.

Cross-referencing the Polish media and AP reports, it could be possible to conclude that Netanyahu’s summer 2017 meeting with Szydło led to Poland buying the NSO software and using it already in November 2017, though aspects of the evidence are still circumstantial.

Reports of the Polish government using NSO’s spyware against the opposition surfaced in 2019 and again in early 2020.

But the latest disclosure provided more concrete evidence than ever to the charges, reportedly leading Polish authorities to shifting from denying the hacking of opposition figures completely to shifting blame to nongovernmental entities.

WILL THE Submarine Affair eventually sink Netanyahu? (credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)WILL THE Submarine Affair eventually sink Netanyahu? (credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

The latest allegations would serve as a further source of embarrassment to NSO. They also could show a more direct personal involvement of Netanyahu in exporting NSO technology as part of cyber diplomacy with Poland, Hungary and several countries in the Middle East.

NSO has said its product is only used to fight terrorists and drug rings. It has denied that its product is ever used illegally, other than in approximately five cases where it learned of abuses and cut off the clients in question from future use.

Despite NSO’s denials, the continued bad press it has been hit with worldwide since mid-2021, along with a ban by the US Commerce Department, have sent the once juggernaut company into a free fall, and it is unclear if it will survive financially.