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How a Business Insider reporter got the story on hacking devices

September 6, 2019

Posted by Chris Roush

Becky Peterson

Business Insider deputy editor Olivia Oran spoke to technology deals reporter Becky Peterson who took readers inside the secretive Israeli spyware startup scene, where the notorious NSO Group has spawned a web of companies that hack into devices.

Here is an excerpt:

Oran: Tell me about your reporting process. How long did this story take to come together? Without getting too specific, who are the types of people that you relied on as sources?

Peterson: I’ve been working on this story for around four months. I was still living in the Bay Area at the time, and my editor called me to talk about the story while I was in the waiting room at the eye doctor. I thought I had a contact lens stuck in my eye.

When I first started reporting, it wasn’t clear what I was looking for. I had a sense that Silicon Valley VC firms might be investing in these companies, and that they weren’t being upfront about their participation. That turned out to be partially true. I spoke to a number of venture capitalists who said in no uncertain terms that they would never invest in an offensive cybersecurity company.

But they also knew that the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz had. I also reached out to a number of people who were offensive cyber experts themselves, or who had worked with NSO Group at one time or another. For a story like this, most people don’t email you back. But the ones that do always have something compelling to share.

Read more here.

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