(Reuters) – The US Department of Commerce added Israel's NSO group and Candiru to its blacklist on Wednesday and said it was selling spyware to foreign governments using the equipment to target government officials, journalists and others.
Positive Technologies of Russia and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE LTD, from Singapore, were also listed. The Department said that they traded in cyber tools used to gain unauthorized access to computer networks. US equivalents are limited. For example, it makes it much more difficult for U.S. security researchers to sell information about computer vulnerabilities to them.
"We do not take action against countries or governments where these devices are located," said a State Department spokesman. Suppliers will need to apply for a license before selling to them, which is likely to be denied.
In the past, NSO Group and Candiru have been accused of selling hacking tools to authoritarian regimes. NSO says they only sell their products to law enforcement and intelligence agencies and take action to curb abuse.
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An NSO spokesman said the company was "appalled" by the decision because its technologies "support U.S. national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and therefore we will advocate for the repeal of this decision. "
NSO will present information on its" rigorous "compliance and human rights program," which has already resulted in several terminations of contacts with government agencies that abused our products ", the spokesperson said in an email.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense, which grants export licenses to the NSO, declined to comment on the matter.
Contact information for Candiru was not available.
The Biden administration imposed sanctions on positive technology. , a Russian cyber security company, this year to provide support to Russian security services. The company denies any wrongdoing.
A spokesman for the Positive Technologies and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE LTD, also known as COSEINC, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
COSEINC founder Thomas Lim is known for organizing a security conference called SyScan, which was sold to the Chinese technology company Qihoo 360, a sanctioned entity. An email published by WikiLeaks in 201
Lim did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to a social media account he owns.
Export. Control experts say the designation could have a much broader impact on listed companies than simply restricting their access to US technology.
to conduct complex legal analyzes, "said Kevin Wolf, former Deputy Secretary of Commerce for the Export Administration under the Obama administration.
The list of entities was increasingly used for national security and foreign policy purposes during the Trump administration. The Chinese telecom company Huawei was added in 2019, which cut it off from some major US suppliers and made it difficult for them to manufacture mobile phones.