Facebook isn’t the most toxic tech company

This morning’s Observer column:

If you were compiling a list of the most toxic tech companies, Facebook – strangely – would not come out on top. First place belongs to NSO, an outfit of which most people have probably never heard. Wikipedia tells us that “NSO Group is an Israeli technology firm primarily known for its proprietary spyware Pegasus, which is capable of remote zero-click surveillance of smartphones”.

Pause for a moment on that phrase: “remote zero-click surveillance of smartphones”. Most smartphone users assume that the ability of a hacker to penetrate their device relies upon the user doing something careless or naive – clicking on a weblink, or opening an attachment. And in most cases they would be right in that assumption. But Pegasus can get in without the user doing anything untoward. And once in, it turns everything on the device into an open book for whoever deployed the malware.

That makes it remarkable enough. But the other noteworthy thing about it is that it can infect Apple iPhones…

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