QuaDream, Israeli iPhone hacking spyware firm, to shut down

QuaDream, based in Ramat Gan, Israel, with around 40 employees, is known for its spyware used for hacking iPhones.
QuaDream, Israeli iPhone hacking spyware firm, to shut down

QuaDream, an Israeli cyber mercenary, was recently exposed by Citizen Lab and Microsoft for developing spyware that hacks iPhones.

QuaDream, a rival spyware developer of NSO Group, is reportedly preparing to shut down its operations. Employees of QuaDream have been summoned for a hearing, and it has been revealed that the company plans to lay off most of its employees, retaining only a small fraction to oversee the closure.

This decision comes amidst a survival crisis faced by the Israeli cyberattack industry, with several companies, including the cyberattack unit of Cognyte and Nemesis, reportedly shutting down. NSO Group also laid off 150 employees in the previous summer.

It is worth noting that Hackread.com also published a report on QuaDream titled “QuaDream: Israeli Cyber Mercenary Behind iPhone Hacks,” based on the findings of Citizen Lab and Microsoft. These findings may have played a significant role in QuaDream’s apparent demise.

Here’s what Eva Galperin, the Director of Cybersecurity at EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), had to say about the recent development:

Daaaamn. @citizenlab just took out an Israeli spyware company out with a single shot.

I wish they were all this easy. https://t.co/9JdERK7EsV

— Eva (@evacide) April 16, 2023

QuaDream, based in Ramat Gan, Israel, with around 40 employees, is known for its spyware used for hacking iPhones. Sources indicate that the company has notified its employees about the upcoming closure.

QuaDream’s operations have always been shrouded in mystery and came to the forefront recently after it sent a response letter to the Bat Yam Labor Court in defence of a lawsuit brought by a former employee.

Reportedly, in the letter, QuaDream cited a crisis in the cyberattack sector as the reason for laying off employees, with the industry’s downturn starting in 2018 when several companies publicly disclosed their activities, resulting in the blacklisting of Candiru and NSO by the US Chamber of Commerce in November 2011.

The crisis further deepened in early 2022 when the Israeli regulator announced a reduction in the number of countries where companies could sell their products, from 102 to 37, causing a severe economic crisis across the entire industry. By November 2022, businesses reported a significant negative trend, which also impacted QuaDream’s cash flow.

QuaDream was founded by Nimrod Reznik and Ilan Dabelstein, who still serve as senior managers. Its flagship product is an integrated software/hardware system that takes over local networks to hack phones connected to it.

Another popular product is software used for gaining remote access to phones. In 2022, Reuters reported that QuaDream had developed a no-interaction-based zero-click hacking tool similar to NSO Group’s products, which was in high demand among cybercriminals and espionage actors.

However, QuaDream faced a major setback when a report from Microsoft and Citizen Lab revealed that its hacking tools were used against advocacy organizations, journalists, and opposition figures in ten countries, including North America and Europe.

The report also suggested that the spyware used in these attacks was provided by QuaDream. Microsoft’s associate general counsel, Amy Hogan-Burney, emphasized the importance of publicly disclosing the activities of companies like QuaDream to hold them accountable.

Since the publication of this research, QuaDream has not been fully active, and its board of directors is now reportedly looking to sell its intellectual property.

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