Spyware Company QuaDream Set to Close

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An Israeli commercial spyware maker recently linked to a new zero-day iPhone exploit is closing its doors for good, according to a local report.

Unnamed sources told Israeli daily Calcalist yesterday that Tel Aviv-based QuaDream has sacked all of its employees and will wind down operations over the coming days.

Read more on commercial spyware makers: Tech Industry Bids to Tackle Cyber-Mercenary Epidemic.

Although the secretive company itself could not be reached for comment, those sources reportedly said that the firm has been in financial difficulties for some time and a blockbuster expose last week was the final straw.

That report from Citizen Lab claimed that QuaDream had developed a zero-click, zero-day exploit – dubbed “EndofDays” by researchers – which used invisible iCloud calendar invites to install without user notification.

QuaDream spyware referred to by Microsoft as “KingsPawn” was then deployed via the exploit. The researchers discovered at least five civil society victims whom they believe were targeted by customers of QuaDream – usually autocratic states.

However, the scale of the operation may have been much greater. Citizen Lab identified over 600 servers linked to QuaDream spyware between late 2021 and early 2023, with suspected operators in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ghana, Israel, Mexico, Romania, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uzbekistan.

According to Calcalist, QuaDream has not been fully operational for some time, with its board currently trying to sell the firm’s intellectual property.

While its demise will be welcomed by civil society groups, there are plenty of similar commercial spyware makers ready to fill the gap left by the firm.

That is one of the reasons why the White House recently released a new Presidential executive order. It seeks to ban the government from using any spyware previously designed for “anti-democratic” uses or that poses a counterintelligence or security risk to Washington.  

It is hoped the order will disincentivize commercial spyware developers hoping that they may be able to sell their wares to the US government.

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