WASHINGTON: Facebook-owned WhatsApp has filed a legal suit against an Israeli firm alleging that it was behind cyber-attacks that infected devices with malicious software.
In its legal complaint against the Israeli firm - NSO Group - the WhatsApp claimed that the firm installed spyware on users' phones and targeted human rights defenders, journalists, political dissidents, diplomats and government officials, according to CNN.com.
The Facebook-owned (FB) messaging service filed the lawsuit against the Israeli firm in a US Federal Court on Tuesday.
WhatsApp has accused the NSO Group of sending malware to roughly 1,400 mobile phones for ''surveillance.''
The Israeli firm, which makes software for surveillance, has rejected these allegations.
In its complaint filed in the US federal court, WhatsApp claimed that the NSO Group "developed their malware in order to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted on target devices".
WhatsApp also alleged that the NSO Group created various WhatsApp accounts and caused the malicious code to be transmitted over the WhatsApp servers in April and May.
"We believe this attack targeted at least 100 members of civil society, which is an unmistakable pattern of abuse," WhatsApp said in a statement.
The affected users had numbers from several countries, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico, according to the lawsuit.
WhatsApp said it is seeking a permanent injunction banning NSO from using its service.
The firm, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, said it was the first time an encrypted messaging provider had taken legal action of this kind.
It may be recalled that the facebook-owned messaging services promotes itself as a "secure" communications app because messages are end-to-end encrypted.
This means they should only be displayed in a legible form on the sender or recipient's device.