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Austria’s Kurz sets up cyber firm with ex-NSO chief

Former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Thursday he is launching a cybersecurity company with the ex-head of Israel’s NSO Group, which makes controversial Pegasus spyware.

“The need to protect basic infrastructure such as energy, water and health services against cyberattacks never stops growing,” Kurz wrote on Facebook.

For his Tel Aviv-based firm Dream Security, “The object is to offer solutions for protection against such attacks,” he added.

The 36-year-old conservative will be president of the new venture, Israeli financial newspaper Globes reported Wednesday.

“During my time as chancellor, I saw numerous attacks on governments as well as production centres and power plants, most of which were not published in the media,” Kurz told Globes.

The new firm would focus for now on the European market, he added.

NSO has been accused of playing into the hands of authoritarian regimes. It says the spyware gathers information against criminal and terrorist networks — but that it could have been misused by certain clients.

NSO spyware infiltrates mobile phones and extracts data or activate cameras or microphones.

Shalev Hulio stood down as CEO at NSO in August last year, as part of a reorganisation.

A month earlier, a multinational journalistic investigation revealed that Pegasus had been sold by NSO to governments around the world and used against human rights activists, politicians, reporters and others.

Kurz resigned as chancellor a year ago after a major corruption scandal swept through Austrian politics.

He has remained based in Vienna while spreading his talents through numerous private international enterprises.

At the start of the year he joined German-American billionaire Peter Thiel’s investment outfit Thiel Capital in California, running global strategy.

Kurz, who has just published a book on his political career, has also set up a consultancy for international companies and another for technology investment.