Candiru — another Israeli firm with a long list of questionable customers, including Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore.
Now there’s another name to add to the list of NSO-alikes. And (perhaps not oddly enough) this company also calls Israel home. Reuters was the first to report on this NSO’s competitor’s ability to stay competitive in the international malware race.
A flaw in Apple’s software exploited by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group to break into iPhones in 2021 was simultaneously abused by a competing company, according to five people familiar with the matter.
QuaDream, the sources said, is a smaller and lower profile Israeli firm that also develops smartphone hacking tools intended for government clients.
Like NSO, QuaDream sold a “zero-click” exploit that could completely compromise a target’s phones. We’re using the past tense not because QuaDream no longer exists, but because this particular exploit (the basis for NSO’s FORCEDENTRY) has been patched into uselessness by Apple.
But, like other NSO competitors (looking at you, Candiru), QuaDream has no interest in providing statements, a friendly public face for inquiries from journalists, or even a public-facing website. Its Tel Aviv office seemingly has no occupants and email inquiries made by Reuters have gone ignored.
QuaDream doesn’t have much of a web presence. But that’s changing, due to this report, which builds on earlier reporting on the company by Haaretz and Middle East Eye. But even the earlier reporting doesn’t go back all that far: June 2021. That report shows the company selling a hacking tool called “Reign” to the Saudi government. But that sale wasn’t accomplished directly, apparently in a move designed to further distance QuaDream from both the product being sold and the government it sold it to.
Reign is apparently the equivalent of NSO’s Pegasus, another powerful zero-click exploit that appears to still be able to hack most iPhone models. But it’s not a true equivalent. According to this report, the tool can be rendered useless by a single system software update and, perhaps more importantly, cannot be remotely terminated by the entity deploying it, should the infection be discovered by the target. This means targeted users have the opportunity to learn a great deal about the exploit, its deployment, and possibly where it originated