The Insecurity Industry
Despite years of reporting that implicated the NSO Group's for-profit hacking of phones in the deaths and detentions of journalists and human rights defenders; despite years of reporting that smartphone operating systems were riddled with catastrophic security flaws; and despite years of reporting that even when everything works as intended, the mobile ecosystem is a dystopian hellscape of end-user monitoring and outright end-user manipulation, it is still hard for many people to accept that something that feels good may not in fact be good. Even if we woke up tomorrow and the NSO Group and all of its private-sector ilk had been wiped out by the eruption of a particularly public-minded volcano, it wouldn't change the fact that we're in the midst of the greatest crisis of computer security in computer history. Recall our earlier topic of the NSO Group's Pegasus, which especially but not exclusively targets iPhones. While iPhones are more private by default and, occasionally, better-engineered from a security perspective than Google's Android operating system, they also constitute a monoculture: if you find a way to infect one of them, you can infect all of them, a problem exacerbated by Apple's black-box refusal to permit customers to make any meaningful modifications to the way iOS devices operate. Governments must come to understand that permitting-much less subsidizing-the existence of the NSO Group and its malevolent peers does not serve their interests, regardless of where the client, or the client-state, is situated along the authoritarian axis: the last President of the United States spent all of his time in office when he wasn't playing golf tweeting from an iPhone, and I would wager that half of the most senior officials and their associates in every other country were reading those tweets on their iPhones. Frankly, the Post's response to the NSO scandal is so embarrassingly weak that it is a scandal in itself: how many of their writers need to die for them to be persuaded that process is not a substitute for prohibition? The NSO Group's "Product" has been used to spy on countless other journalists, judges, and even teachers.