~ PRAKRITI PRAKASH
Mid-July of 2021 saw headlines getting filled with controversy regarding the Pegasus spyware which is being used to target leading journalists, opposition members, and activists in 40 countries, including India. So, what do you need to know about the Pegasus spyware? This blog will provide you with every necessary detail.
What is Pegasus?
Pegasus is spyware developed by an Israeli intelligence firm NSO. This highly advanced spyware is capable of hacking computers and smartphones without any action on the part of the user. This means that the user does not need to click on any link or open any message for the device to get infected. This malicious spyware usually employs applications like Whatsapp, iMessage, SMS, and other unknown platforms to enter the targeted device.
What happens if Pegasus enters your device?
Pegasus acts as a spy. After infecting the device, it gains access to the database available in it and can easily transfer it to a third party without the consent of the user. A highly advanced version of this spyware can also take control of the camera and microphone in smartphones which can be used by the hacker to spy on the target in real-time. It can also be used to find the location of the user.
How did the spyware come into the limelight?
A France-based NGO named Forbidden Stories has been credited for the latest expose. The non-governmental organisation sought and received technical support from Amnesty International. A consortium of 17 international media houses including The Guardian, Reuters, Washington Post, The Wire collaborated in this project named ‘Pegasus Project’. And the revelations are shocking.
Revelations from the Project Pegasus
According to the Israeli firm NSO, the Pegasus spyware is sold exclusively to the governments of various countries with an aim to nab terrorists and criminals. However, contrary to this assertion, the list of over 50,000 potential targets that have been released does not include such individuals. Instead, it includes journalists, media houses, activists, academics, lawyers, heads of state including French President Emmanuel Macron, and so on. Over 300 targets on the list are Indians. Whether or not the device has been infected yet can only be confirmed after a forensic examination.
Updates so far
Taking the scandal into serious consideration, multiple nations including Algeria, France, Hungary, and Israel have begun investigations. Over 1000 devices have been forensically tested and have confirmed the presence of Pegasus spyware in them. India is yet to take any action regarding the controversy.