What is Pegasus? What does it do?

Reply Tue 8 Feb, 2022 08:34 am

Pegasus, spyware made by the Israeli technology company NSO Group, is making headlines again after it was reported that the Israeli police used it for spying on dozens of its own citizens – including senior government officials and protesters rallying up against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The report brought a months-long international scandal into the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company back to full circle, following reports that it was used by governments across the world to spy on activists, journalists, and even heads of state.

NSO Group, founded in 2010, describes itself on its website as creating “technology that helps government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives around the globe”.

Pegasus is a spyware that can infiltrate a mobile phone and harvest personal and location data, and can control the phone’s microphones and cameras without the user’s knowledge or permission.

Some of the information Pegasus has access to includes photos, web searches, passwords, call logs, communications and social media posts.

The spyware is designed to bypass detection and mask its activity.

Researchers have found several examples of NSO Group sophisticated tools using so-called “zero click” exploits that infect targeted mobile phones without any user interaction.

This means that a successful spyware attack on a phone needs just an operating system installed or a particular vulnerable app.

Who has been targeted?
An investigation by 17 news organisations into more than 50,000 numbers was published by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. It found that more than 1,000 individuals across 50 countries were allegedly selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance since 2016.

That list includes 189 journalists, more than 600 politicians and government officials, and several heads of state, including France’s Emmanuel Macron, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The journalists include employees from Al Jazeera, The Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and The Financial Times.

At least 65 business executives and 85 human rights activists worldwide have also been targeted.

There is more article at the link
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