Another Israeli Exploit Developer Caught Selling Malware To Blacklisted Countries

from the quite-the-cottage-industry-you-got-there dept

Maybe it’s time for the Israeli government to put a moratorium on Mossad-based startups. Israeli intelligence services have been the petri dishes for a particular strain of techbro — ones who have the smarts to create zero-click exploits but none of the common sense needed to cull baddies from their customer lists.

The Israeli government is partly to blame. It worked closely with NSO Group (and presumably others in the same business) to broker deals with human rights abusers: diplomacy via malware sales.

Months of negative press got NSO blacklisted by the US government. It also got it investigated in its homeland, finally resulting in the Israeli government (reluctantly) limiting who the company could sell to.

NSO isn’t the only malware merchant with Israeli roots. Candiru — another recipient of US sanctions — calls Israel home. So does Cytrox, yet another exploit developer with ties to Israeli intelligence services. Cytrox was at the center of a recent domestic spying scandal in Greece, with its malware being used to target opposition leaders and journalists. This culminated in Greek police forces raiding Cytrox’s local office, presumably as part of the ongoing investigation.

Now there’s another Israeli spyware maker making the wrong kind of headlines, as Fanny Potkin and Poppy McPherson report for Reuters.

Israel’s Cognyte Software Ltd won a tender to sell intercept spyware to a Myanmar state-backed telecommunications firm a month before the Asian nation’s February 2021 military coup, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

No matter who’s running the Myanmar government, they shouldn’t be trusted with powerful spyware. For most of the past 60 years, the country has been run by some form of military dictatorship. The 2021 coup simply reshuffled a bit of the military dictatorship organizational chart. Throughout this time period, residents (especially Muslim residents) have been on the receiving end of intense oppression. For Myanmar’s Muslims, oppression means death: ethic cleansing.

Given the fact that any malware sold to the Myanmar government was likely to be abused to target critics…