Pegasus Spyware : Everything you need to know
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For the past 2 days, the internet has been a frenzy around a news relating to pegasus spyware.
But what exactly is Pegasus Spyware?
Pegasus is spyware developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group that can be covertly installed on mobile phones running most versions of iOS and Android. The 2021 Project Pegasus revelations suggest that current Pegasus software is able to exploit all recent iOS versions up to iOS 14.6.
Can I Check If My Phone Is Affected By It?
To know whether you’re affected by Pegasus spyware, you’ll think you to check your phone. Unfortunately, there’s no solid way of finding out if you’re hit by the spyware. Pegasus is among the most sophisticated spyware, so you can’t just spot it on your phone.
However, there’s minimal to no chance that your phone is infected with Pegasus. It is so because this spyware is used by governments to spy on high-profile targets. In other words, it is targeted surveillance spyware and not a mass surveillance one.
What if you think you are affected?
in such a case, we recommend you consult a cybersecurity expert. Another solution is to change your phone, contact number, and all your passwords. You could also factory rest your phone
Warning : Factory restting it, will wipe it off, including all your data.
Now, about why is everyone going crazy about this
Rights activists, journalists, and lawyers around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to authoritarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm, media reports say.
They are on a listing of some 50,000 phone numbers of individuals believed to be of interest to clients of the corporate, NSO Group, leaked to major news outlets.
It was not clear where the list came from – or how many phones had been hacked.
NSO denies any wrongdoing.
It says the software is intended to be used against criminals and terrorists and is made available only to the military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies from countries with good human rights records.
The original investigation that led to the reports, by Paris-based NGO Forbidden Stories and also the human rights group Amnesty International, was “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories”.
But it added that it would “continue to investigate all credible claims of misuse and take appropriate action”.
The allegations about the use of the software, called Pegasus, were carried on Sunday by the Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde, and 14 other media organizations around the world.
Pegasus infects iPhones and Android devices, allowing operators to extract messages, photos, and emails, record calls, and secretly activate microphones and cameras.
What can we comprehend from the people targeted?
Media outlets working on the investigation said that they had identified over 1,000 people spanning over 50 countries whose numbers were on the list.
They include politicians and heads of state, business executives, activists, and several other Arab royal house members. more than 180 journalists were also found to be on the list, from organizations including CNN, the new york Times, and Al Jazeera.
Who are these alleged victims of Pegasus spyware?
Many of the numbers were clustered in 10 countries: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, saudi arabia, and also the United Arab Emirates, according to the reports.
When contacted by the outlets involved in the investigation, spokespeople for these countries either denied that Pegasus was used or denied that they’d abused their powers of surveillance.
It was not clear how many of the devices on the list had been targeted, but forensic analysis of 37 of the phones showed there had been “attempted and successful” hacks, the Washington Post reported.
List of known victims
- people close to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in October 2018 while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. His body was then dismembered. The investigation found that spyware was installed on his fiancée’s phone days after his murder, and that his wife’s phone was targeted with spyware between September 2017 and April 2018.
- The phone of Mexican journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto also appeared twice on the list, including in the month before he was murdered, the investigation found. His phone disappeared from the scene of the murder so a forensic examination was not possible. NSO said that even if his phone was targeted, that did not mean that data collected was connected with his murder.
- The phones of two Hungarian investigative journalists, Andras Szabo and Szabolcs Panyi, were found to have been successfully infected with the spyware.
- In India, more than 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and two ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government were reported to be on the list.
- This included the key opposition figure Rahul Gandhi, with two mobile phone numbers belonging to him found in the list. Mr Gandhi no longer has the devices so it was not possible to analyse them to determine if he had been hacked.
The allegations here are not new. what’s new is that the scale of the targeting of innocent those that are allegedly happening. Nearly 200 reporters from 21 countries have their phone numbers on this list, and more names of high-profile public figures are expected to be revealed.
There are lots of unknowns in these allegations – including where the list comes from and the way many of the phone numbers were actively targeted with spyware. NSO Group has yet again set out swinging and denies all accusations. However, it is a blow for the corporate, which is actively trying to reform its reputation.
Only fortnight ago it released its first “transparency report” detailing human rights policies and pledges. Amnesty International brushed the 32-page document off as a “sales brochure”.
These latest allegations will do further damage to its image, but they will not hurt the corporate financially. only a few private companies can produce the type of invasive spy tools that NSO sells, and clearly, the largely unregulated marketplace for the software is booming.
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