Pegasus: Israel reduces its list of countries suitable for receiving cyber weapons from 102 to 37

The Israeli government announces drastically reducing the list of states able to receive exports of cyber weapons. One way for the country to improve its international image, several months after the revelations of the Pegasus affair.

After several trying months on the international scene following the Pegasus affair, the Israeli government is trying to improve its image. The country that saw the birth of the NSO group and its spy software decided on November 25, 2021 to reduce its list of countries able to receive cyber weapons exports from 102 to 37.

A drastic reduction, but late

This reduction corresponds to the disappearance of two-thirds of the countries concerned, and eliminates former NSO customers who are highly criticized, such as Morocco, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. According to the list obtained by the Israeli media Calacist, remain mainly European countries such as France or Germany, and other Western countries such as the United States or Australia. A few Asian countries such as South Korea, India and Japan also remain accessible markets. However, Israel has not given any reason or official criteria to justify keeping these 37 states precisely, and not the others.

The move, however, looks like an attempt by the country to keep up appearances. The ties between the Israeli government and NSO, the flagship of spy software, have left their mark on the international stage. The Hebrew state has, among other things, used the sales of this spy software to normalize its diplomatic relations with countries of the Maghreb and the Arabian Peninsula. The target countries remain bitter.

NSO on the brink

But today the company is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. Its CEO resigned shortly after the placement blacklisted of NSO by the United States in November 2021, which prevents it from doing transactions with American companies. Several tech giants like the group Meta  (Facebook) and Apple have also filed a complaint against the cyber weapons seller.

A late decision that looks more like a way to improve its image internationally // Source: Steve Johnson via Unsplash

Despite everything, the Israeli government is trying to rebuild itself. As revealed on November 22, 2021 The Guardian, discussions took place between French and Israeli officials about French government espionage, Emmanuel Macron himself having been the target of Pegasus.

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