- Recently an investigation by an international media consortium revealed that more than 50,000 phone numbers were targeted by a spyware created by NSO Group, an Israeli software company.
- Report from the grouping called the Pegasus Project, includes The Guardian in U.K, The Wire in India, and The Washington Post in the U.S.
- The reports are based on a database of about 50,000 phne numbers accessed by the Paris-based non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty international.
- On the list were 300 verified phone numbers in India, including those of ministers, opposition leaders, a sitting judge, more than 40 journalists, and several activists and business persons.
What is Pegasus?
- Pegasus, developed by NSO Group, is perhaps the most powerful spyware ever created.
- It is designed to infiltrate smartphones — Android and iOS — and turn them into surveillance devices.
- A spyware is any malicious software designed to enter your computer device, gather your data, and forward it to a third-party without your consent.
- The Israeli company, however, markets it as a tool to track criminals and terrorists — for targeted spying and not mass surveillance. NSO Group sells the software to governments only.
How does it work?
- Pegasus exploits undiscovered vulnerabilities, or bugs, in Android and iOS. This means a phone could be infected even if it has the latest security patch installed.
- A previous version of the spyware — from 2016 — infected smartphones using a technique called “spear-fishing”: text messages or emails containing a malicious link were sent to the target. It depended on the target clicking the link—a requirement that was done away with in subsequent versions.
- By 2019, Pegasus could infiltrate a device with a missed call on WhatsApp and could even delete the record of this missed call, making it impossible for the user to know they had been targeted.
- Pegasus infections can be achieved through so-called “zero-click” attacks, which do not require any interaction from the phone’s owner in order to succeed. These will often exploit “zero-day” vulnerabilities, which are flaws or bugs in an operating system that the mobile phone’s manufacturer does not yet know about and so has not been able to fix.
What can it do?
- Once installed on a phone, Pegasus can intercept and steal more or less any information on it, including SMSes, contacts, call history, calendars, emails and browsing histories. It can use your phone’s microphone to record calls and other conversations, secretly film you with its camera, or track you with GPS.
We hope you all understood about Pegasus.
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