Pegasus Spyware: How phones of Indian political leaders, journalists and activists were hacked?
Pegasus spyware has caused quite a debate and havoc in the Indian political system lately. With the news of many political learders such as Rahul Gandhi himself under its trap, the Government of India has much to worry about the privacy of it's people. However, in the monsoon session BJP dismissed all the allegations of the anti national activities by the Opposition partie against the Center as baseless.
Pegasus spyware was earlier used by various Governments to spy on potential opposition and rivals. This time various media agencies have reported another mass hacking activity by this spyware. This time surveillance is said to have targeted over 40 journalists in India, activists and other key public figures of the country. What is more shocking is that the reports are surfacing of the India Government being involved in this activity too. Take a look at the details of this spyware, its usage, how is it potentially dangerous here.
As Guardian reported, "fishing expedition, based on conjectures and exaggerations to malign the Indian democracy and its institutions." Take a look at the tweets made by Rahul Gandhi on the same.
In its unsigned "statement" y'day on #Pegasus, Govt of India said that surveillance is done under the provisions of Sec 5(2) of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) July 19, 2021
HOWEVER, here's what the Act says about surveillance of journalists.
Govt has itself now admitted that it violated the Act. pic.twitter.com/5avrIfuekw
Take a look at the details shared by Edward Snowden here
Hungary gave the most incriminating response I've ever seen to a request for comment on the #Pegasus surveillance scandal. I mean, whenever I'm "not aware" of whether I did something or not, I demand to know if foreign spies tipped you off about it.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) July 18, 2021
LINK: https://t.co/ZBXZvXUQ32 pic.twitter.com/NY6QM3CQ6O
NSO Group, who is the developer of Pegasus said, "NSO does not operate the systems that it sells to vetted government customers, and does not have access to the data of its customers' targets."
Also take a look here
A leak of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers reveal for the first time, the staggering scale of surveillance of journalists and human rights defenders oppressive regimes have engaged in using Israeli cybersurveillance https://t.co/GSdDzCFwUg— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) July 18, 2021
What is Pegasus?
Pegasus is a spyware that has been developed by the NSO Group, which is an Israeli company. It specialises in cyber weapons. The spyware first came into light in 2016 when an Arab activist received a suspicious message. Then it was thought that Pegasus targeted only iPhone users. But later it was found that Pegasus can infect Android phones too.
Days after this Apple released a version of iOS that was free of the loophole discovered by Pegasus to infiltrate its security system.
In 2019, Facebook filed a case against NSO Group for the creation of Pegasus. Its researchers also found when they chased the group's files that the spyware was used to hack the phones of several journalists and activists in India as well. Then it was WhatsApp that informed its users against this spyware too.
#Pegasus use is hacking, not “authorised interception” or tapping. Hacking is a crime, whether it’s done by individuals or govt— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) July 18, 2021
Govt has to expressly disclose or deny only 2 things:
1 Did you use NSO spyware or not?
2 Did you target specific people named in news reports? 1/2
How is Pegasus used to hack the phone?
Pegasus hacks the phone simply by sending a malicious site link to its users which in turn when clicked gets the spyware running on the systems. That simple! The worst part is that this spyware is so deeply rooted and highly sophisticated that the user does not even come to know any file has been installed on his device.
The other sources for installation are said to be through audio messages, voice call security bugs, by giving missed calls etc. It is said that the user does not even get to know of the missed call as it is deleted by the time user notices it.
What can Pegasus do?
One word: Everything! Pegasus can hack the device, and do it thoroughly. Once on the device it can listen to even the encrypted calls or the ones made through Facebook or Whats App. It has access to the normal voice calls made and received by the user in real time, his messages, texts, internet usage and everything on his/ her phone.
It is a modular spyware that after being installed on the user's phone installs various modules necessary to read through people's mails, listen to their calls and even check every picture clicked through the phone.