US blacklists European spyware maker over cyber spying

Cytrox and Intellexa spyware vendors have been placed on the US government’s trade restrictions list due to trafficking in cyber exploits. This limits their ability to use American tech.

The US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) said that its actions target Cytrox’s and Intellexa’s ability to develop surveillance tools that pose risks of human rights abuse.

Four entities registered in Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and North Macedonia were penned to BIS’s so-called Entity List, which puts the companies under export and licensing restrictions.

For example, if a US company wanted to sell software to Cytrox or Intellexa, it would have to obtain a license from BIS first, essentially banning any meaningful trade between the listed entities and the US.

Added entities include Intellexa S.A., Cytrox Holdings Crt, Intellexa Limited, and Cytrox AD. Cytrox has been linked with Predator spyware, which some governments used to spy on dissidents and political figures. Meta has also called out Cytrox over mass hacking campaigns.

Meanwhile, Intellexa serves as a marketing alliance that sells spyware to governments around the world. According to Citizen Lab, Cytrox is a part of the Intellexa Alliance. Intellexa and Cytrox were set up by Tal Dilian, a former general in Israeli military intelligence, who was forced to resign after suspicions that he was involved in funds mismanagement.

“The proliferation and misuse of such commercial surveillance tools, including commercial spyware, pose distinct and growing security risks to the United States, facilitate repression, and enable human rights abuses,” BIS said.

Previously, the infamous Israeli maker of Pegasus spyware, the NSO Group, was added to the list of companies that pose a national security risk to the United States.

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