No one can argue that cyberattacks like hacking, data breaches, etc., are happening more and more in this digitally advanced time. Similarly, the term “Pegasus Spyware” has become very popular around the world in recent years.
End-to-end encryption is a type of technology that scrambles messages on your phone and only lets them be reread on the other person’s phone. This makes it so that anyone who gets a hold of the messages in between can’t read them. End-to-end encryption is used by apps and services from Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo, among others.
This kind of encryption is good for protecting your privacy, but governments don’t like it because it makes it harder for them to spy on people, whether they’re looking for criminals and terrorists or, as some governments have been known to do, dissidents, protesters, and journalists. Enter NSO Group, an Israeli tech company.
The most popular product from the company is Pegasus, which is spyware that can sneak into a smartphone and access everything on it, including the camera and microphone. Pegasus is made to get into devices that run on Android, Blackberry, iOS, or Symbian and turn them into surveillance tools. The company only sells Pegasus to governments to track criminals and terrorists.
Hacking software, also called spyware, is called Pegasus. It is made, sold, and licensed to governments worldwide by an Israeli company called NSO Group. It can infect billions of phones using iOS or Android operating systems. People are calling it the most powerful spyware ever made. What is Pegasus, then? And can you protect yourself against it? We explain what’s important about what’s been in the news over the past few days.
What is Pegasus Spyware?
Pegasus is phone hacking software made by an Israeli company called NSO Group and sold to governments worldwide. Pegasus can record phone conversations and reveal everything, including text messages, photographs, emails, videos, and contact lists, to the NSO customers who operate it.
Why are we hearing about Pegasus now?
A leaked list shows 50,000 phone numbers thought to be “of interest to clients” of NSO. These numbers belong to rights activists, journalists, lawyers, politicians, and business executives from more than 50 countries. NSO says that the product is for keeping track of criminals and terrorists. The company also says that it only sells the software to agencies in countries with good human rights records and will look into Pegasus abuse.
What does Pegasus do?
Let us tell you that this Pegasus Spyware attacks devices so smoothly that the device’s owner might not even know it’s happening. You can better understand this by thinking about how Pegasus Spyware can hack your device even if you miss a WhatsApp call. Yes, you read that right. Aside from that, standard reports have shown that Pegasus uses a variety of endpoints to attack devices. For example, it uses iMessage to attack iPhones.
The thing that stands out is that it uses the zero-click method, which means that the device owner doesn’t even have to click on the message, email, link, etc., or do anything else for the malware to work. Also, if the user finds something suspicious and deletes the message, the spyware would still infect the device.
Once the Pegasus is in your phone, the other person can see your texts, emails, contacts, photos, passwords, etc. The person spying on you has so much access that they can easily control your device’s microphone or camera. Pegasus Spyware can even read encrypted messages or files because it can now steal them before or after they are encrypted.
How Pegasus Spyware Attacks?
You should also know that the company behind Pegasus Spyware used Amazon’s AWS cloud infrastructure as part of their system. However, Amazon has now shut down all of the NSO group’s accounts because of recent reports from investigators.
Can this Pegasus Spyware change how we live? Okay, first of all, we need to know that, according to NSO Group, this “Pegasus Spyware” was made to help the government by giving them the advanced technology they need to find and stop terrorism or illegal activities.
Also, this spyware is very expensive to use. According to reports, it costs the government around USD 650,000 to spy on 10 iPhones or Android smartphones, plus installation fees, annual maintenance fees, etc., so it won’t be possible for the government to use this tool without a good reason. So, you might think that this Pegasus Spyware won’t hurt you because of these things.
Apple has also stated something about Pegasus Spyware: “Attacks like the ones mentioned are very complex, require millions of dollars to produce, generally have a limited shelf life, and are used to target particular persons.” This is partially accurate and shows that typical users don’t need to worry too much about it.
But what if, in the future, there’s spyware that’s as strong as (or even stronger than) Pegasus Spyware and doesn’t cost as much? Don’t you think it could be used to hurt regular people? Yes, that’s exactly what I meant! We shouldn’t just ignore this Pegasus Spyware.
Instead, we should be aware of it and know its pros and cons so that we can avoid similar spyware or cyberattacks in the future. For example, to avoid Spywares like Pegasus, etc., we can think about the points listed below.
- One essential step is ensuring the device’s Operating System and other apps are always up to date.
- It would be best if you only opened links or messages on your device that come from people you know and trust.
- It would be best if you didn’t use free WiFi in cafes, parks, etc.
- Always have a backup of your device’s essential data.
- Also, remember that using the above strategies and precautions won’t make you completely safe from spyware like Pegasus and others. However, the more you use these strategies and precautions, the less likely you are to get attacked by spyware.
What does Pegasus do?
Once you have Pegasus on your phone, it can:
- Copy the messages you send or get
- Get your photos together.
- Save your calls
- Use your phone’s camera to make videos.
- Record your real-life surroundings and conversations
- Know where you’re at.
How does Pegasus get your phone?
Pegasus spyware is so scary because it can infect devices with “zero-click” attacks, which means the user doesn’t have to click on anything for the software to be installed. Pegasus could get on a phone if it got a malicious text message.
Installation can also be done using a nearby wireless transceiver, or it can be done manually if someone has access to the phone. Pegasus often uses zero-day vulnerabilities, which are flaws in an operating system or device that have just been found but haven’t been fixed yet.
How important is Pegasus Spyware to you?
Even if you’re a “nobody,” you should care about high-tech digital monitoring. It could hurt your privacy, no matter who you are. Explore why surveillance is essential, even if you have nothing to hide.
Is there anything you can do to keep Pegasus away?
If someone is determined enough to use Pegasus against you, there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself right now because there are so many ways the spyware can be put on your phone.
If you think Pegasus spyware is on your phone, the best thing to do is to get rid of it.
Make your phone safer.
Most of us won’t be hit by something as sophisticated as Pegasus (for now). But here are some ways to keep your online activity private and make your phone safer:
The best advice for keeping your iPhone and Android safe
Who is Tor? How to use the Tor browser and the Tor network.
Use Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System) to keep your communication safe.
What is spyware? How can I get rid of it?
Pegasus Spyware was first found about 4 or 5 years ago when a human rights activist from the United Arab Emirates got a text message that was a phishing setup. He sent these messages to the security agency, and they found out that if the user had clicked on those links, his phone would have been infected with Pegasus malware.
Several well-known investigative media outlets recently leaked a database of about 50,000 phone numbers that may have been the target of Pegasus surveillance. The Pegasus Project, the general name for this investigation report, found that among these 50,000 contacts, there are also hundreds of contacts with public officials. But just because a number is in this database doesn’t mean it was successfully used to break into a device. Various cyber-investigation methods are currently being used to find out.
Wrapping It Up
Pegasus spyware is unique in how stealthy it is and how it seems to be able to take complete control of someone’s phone, but it’s not the only way people’s phones can be used to spy on them. Tracking your location, eavesdropping, malware, and collecting data from sensors are ways phones can help with surveillance and hurt your privacy.