The Pegasus spyware has never left the news though as it’s always in the news whenever hacking is being mentioned.
The last time it was really talked about was in 2019 when WhatsApp who made it public that Pegasus spyware was used by an Israeli spyware maker known as NSO group to take a secret peek into private lives of lawyers, senior government officials, journalist and professionals in 20 different countries, including India .The NSO group was later to be sued in May 2019.
How Pegasus Infect its devices
Pegasus spyware is believed to be able to snoop using the phone camera as well as microphone. The Citizen Lab located at the University of Toronto, had assisted WhatsApp’s investigation into the cyber-attack. Guess what? Pegasus is the flagship spyware of Israel-based NSO Group. To those conversant with the spyware, it is known by other names, like Q Suite and Trident. Pegasus has the ability to infiltrate both Android and iOS devices. It also uses several methods to hack into a target’s mobile devices. This is usually done at ease.
NSO Group, an Israeli company is believed to have developed the Pegasus spyware. NSO group whose existence was first made known in 2016, when an Arab activist got suspicious after receiving a dubious message is known to specialize in what experts refer to as cyber weapons. Several phone users and companies believed that Pegasus had an eye only for iPhone users. Later on, Apple released an updated version of iOS, which is reported to have halted Pegasus ability to hack into its phone brand.
WhatsApp, Security and Spyware: What really happened?
Using WhatsApp as a case study, Pegasus was able to gain access into WhatsApp, thanks to a loophole in WhatsApp VoIP stack. This is mainly used when a WhatsApp user wants to place video and audio calls. A minor missed call on WhatsApp paves way for Pegasus to have access into the target’s device.
According to Citizen Lab, Pegasus spyware had in the past used different methods to infiltrate a target’s device.
WhatsApp users are baited to click on a link using social engineering or by using fake package notification messages to transmit the spyware. Indian believes Pegasus has been in existence since 2016 way before 2019 as many believed and they (Indians) have always been in the target list.
What can Pegasus spyware do?
Pegasus spyware being a very flexible piece of spyware starts causing its havoc immediately it is installed on a target’s device. Why are we still writing about Pegasus? Maybe probably because it is known to be the “most sophisticated” phone hacking tool ever.
How does it start work?
With the spyware being so sophisticated, Pegasus hacking is almost seamless and the phone user has no clue that their device has been compromised. Pegasus begins its hacking operations by firstly getting in touch with control servers, which can then relay commands to gather data from the infected device. Pegasus also has the capability of stealing information like passwords, contacts, text messages, calendar details, and even the voice calls made using messaging apps. It can also snoop using the phone’s camera and microphone as earlier mentioned using the GPS to track live location. Once the spyware gets infused into a system, it automatically deletes the call log entry so that the user wouldn’t know about any missed call. This is after when the target user has clicked on a dubious web link.
The NSO Group on its own have feigned knowledge about any wrongdoing and hacking, claiming to only selling the spyware to “vetted and legitimate government agencies.”