WhatsApp, Amnesty International and others sued NSO in the US in 2019, but Pegasus was reportedly used in early 2016, when an Arab human rights activist iPhone was hacked. Within days, Apple released an iOS update that reportedly patched the vulnerability targeted by Pegasus.
Pegasus is in the midst of a major controversy again with an international media collaboration an unnamed agency may be targeting journalists and others overseeing it. Of the 50,000 phone numbers found on the potential list for surveillance, 40 belong to Indian journalists.
Who has access and what is it used for?
Several reports state that Pegasus is used by agencies in different countries for surveillance, but it is not clear which specific agency uses it in which country.
An investigation by Amnesty International and French media group Forbidden Stories has found that most NSO servers are in Europe, while three are located in India and used as attack infrastructure.
According to NSO, no non-government agency has access to its software. It says it has 60 government agency clients in 40 countries, but has not named them. And while WhatsApp and others allege that Pegasus is spyware, NSO says it sells its software “for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terrorist acts.”
“NSO does not operate the system and has no visibility to the data. Our technologies are being used every day to break pedophilia rings, sex and drug-trafficking rings, locate missing and abducted children ,” wrote a statement from the NSO.
How are phones hacked?
The USP of Pegasus is its ability to attack the phone without a single click from the target user. Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) says that earlier versions required the active participation of the target. Pegasus operators sent text messages containing a malicious link, which when clicked would open a malicious web page for the malware to download and execute. But as people got better at detecting malicious spam, the ‘zero-click exploit’ began to be used.
Zero-click exploits exploit bugs in popular apps like iMessage, WhatsApp and FaceTime, all of which receive data and sometimes sort it from unknown sources. “Once a vulnerability is found, Pegasus can infiltrate a device using the app’s protocol. The user is not required to click on a link, read a message, or answer a call – they can receive a missed call or message.” Can’t even see,” the OCCRP says.
Timothy Summers, a former cyber engineer with the US intelligence agency, called Pegasus a shoddy software. “It connects to most messaging systems, including Gmail, Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, Apple’s built-in messaging and email apps, and more. With such a line-up, almost the entire world population can be spied on. It is clear that NSO is offering an intelligence-agency-as-a-service,” summer told reporters.
what type of monitoring?
Basically, Pegasus can spy on every aspect of a target’s life, say researchers at cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. It is modular malware – after scanning the target’s device, it installs the necessary modules to read user messages and mails, listen to calls, capture screenshots, log keys pressed, browser history, eject contacts, etc. does.
Pegasus can also listen to encrypted audio streams and read encrypted messages – thanks to its keylogging and audio recording capabilities, it was able to steal messages before they were encrypted (and, for incoming messages, after decryption). ,” Kaspersky says.