At least nine employees of the US State Department working in or with Uganda had their iPhones hacked with spyware made by NSO Group.

Iran PressAmerica: The iPhones of at least nine US state department officials were recently hacked by a government using NSO Group spyware, according to a new report that raised serious questions about the use of Israeli surveillance tools against US government officials around the world.

The State Department is in the process of trying to figure out who had access to the hacked materials on these phones and how the hack occurred, the US official said. It is possible that situation is the result of the US employees getting new iPhones and the Pegasus spyware software remaining on the devices even after they wiped them clear, the official added.

The State Department investigation is a sign that the thriving market for hacking tools sold by private firms is increasingly a threat to not just human rights, but also US national security.

The Commerce Department last month blacklisted NSO Group and another Israeli spyware firm, Candiru, accusing the companies of providing spyware to foreign governments that "used these tools to maliciously target" journalists, embassy workers and activists.

According to a comprehensive investigation by more than 17 media organizations, spy software called Pegasus, made by the Israeli company NSO, has been used to spy on the cell phones of hundreds of journalists, political and social activists, as well as politicians around the world. 219