The United States blacklists four companies who developed spyware used to suppress individuals and organizations

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The United States on Tuesday blacklisted four companies suspected of using its spyware to infiltrate the phones of adversaries.

The US Department of Commerce announced the inclusion of the “Intelexa” units in Greece and Ireland, as well as the “Cytrox” units in Hungary and North Macedonia, in its blacklist of entities, which prevents Americans from dealing with them.

US Department of Commerce said that “Intelexa” and “Cytrox” worked to penetrate electronic information systems, “which threatened the privacy and security of individuals and organizations around the world”.

The measure came after accusing the two companies that sell surveillance devices of providing spyware that found on the phones of opponents of governments.

According to cybersecurity firm Talos, Intelexa and Citrox are behind the spyware called Predator.

A report by the Canadian “Citizen Lab” organization published in late 2021 concluded that the “Predator” program used in particular to monitor the phones of two Egyptian political opponents in exile, one of whom was Dr. Ayman Nour, while the identity of the second opponent wasn’t announced.

In Greece, the data protection authority in January fined Intelexa €50,000 ($55,926) for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the use of Predator software to spy on Greek opposition leaders, journalists, military commanders, and others.

According to a 2021 Citizen Lab report, Citrox and Predator are part of the Intelexa Alliance.

Intelexa was founded by former Israeli military intelligence officer Tal Dilian, whose name was previously associated with the “NSO” group that developed the “Pegasus” spyware.

According to Forbes, Dillian acquired Cytrox in 2019.

According to marketing materials, Intelexa offers its customers the ability to hack iOS and Android operating systems.

In a report published last month, by Israeli Haaretz newspaper indicated that the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries was among the first investors in Cytrox, but sold its shares in early 2019 to Intelexa.

A statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the blacklisting of the four companies is part of a broader effort by the US administration to address the risks of commercial spyware.

Secretary Blinken warned that these spyware pose increasing risks to security and counterterrorism in the United States, including the security and safety of government employees and their families.

Blinken stressed that this spyware was also used to repress and violate human rights, including intimidating political opponents and suppressing dissent.

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