One after another, we are seeing controversies. This time it is huge! This time there is a hacking scandal of influential people around the World. Pegasus spyware is a spy tool that governments buy to use against terrorists and criminals. Governments’ agencies spy on these offenders using this tool. However, a revelation has been made related to this which has shocked the world.
17 International Media outlets have investigated that Pegasus is being used to spy on different influential people including politicians, journalists, and human rights activists. Even Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Saudi Royal Family Members, Indian Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, and many more personalities became victims of this malware. More than 50,000 are also on the list of possible hacking attempts. So, it is important for you to read every detail about Spyware. Let’s dive in!
Details about Pegasus Spyware Scandal | What does Joint Report of 17 Media Groups Say?
Governments around the world are facing allegations that they have used Spyware to spy on the people they want. Indian and Israeli governments are the most significant ones in this allegation.
Pegasus’s original purpose is to stop crime. It is intended for use against terrorists and criminals. This software is available for military, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement agencies of different countries with good human rights records. According to the Joint Report, Spyware didn’t follow this rule and spied on more than 50,000 people illegally.
A Paris-based Non-Profit Journalism “Forbidden Stories” and a human rights group “Amnesty International” had access to the “list”. This list contains the detail of Spied persons. They shared the list with International news organizations. Then, these news Organizations did further research and Analysis. Moreover, Amnesty Security Lab also played a key role in the investigation.
According to the Report, A total of 600 politicians, 189 Journalists, 85 Human Right Activists, 65 Business executives, and many diplomats are victims of hacking. There are also some names of Military and Security Officers. So, it is a concern of National Security.
There are also reports of Arab Royal Family members in the report. This will surely raise eyebrows of Arab leaders who have started normalizing ties with Israel.
Journalists in the Spyware report:
Phone numbers of Journalists from more than 40 countries are on the list of hacking victims. It also includes Mexican journalists who got murdered in recent years. A woman close to Saudi Journalist Kamal Khashoggi is also on the list. Jamal Khashoggi was mysteriously murdered in Turkey.
Journalists who have faced hacking belong to the following News Agencies:
2) The Wall Street Journal
4) Al Jazeera
5) The Economist
6) Voice of America
7) France 24
8) The New York Times
10) Le Monde
- The report tells us that there are more than 50,000 people who are victims of hacking.
Even Apple is no longer safe from cyber-attacks, according to Amnesty International’s Security Lab. Apple and Google spend billions of dollars annually on cybersecurity. They even offer “Bug bounty” to hackers who warn them of flaws in the software. In return, they get handsome rewards.
NSO Group Update | How does Pegasus Spyware spy and sneak its way onto a phone?
This spy program was first detected in 2016. Initially, it used Booby-trap messages to get itself installed onto the phones. The recipient has to click on the link for spyware to download.
With time, spy software has grown more powerful. In the recent version of Pegasus spyware, it has found weak spots in different software programs. This version is developed by Israeli firm NSO Group. NSO has a deep connection with the Israeli military. NSO Staff includes former members of the Israeli military. Moreover, they keep a close eye on the dark web, A site where hackers sell information about security flaws in any software.
Apple devices are considered to be the safest, but recently, it was reported that Pegasus has identified weaknesses in Apple’s software. Now, it can even have access to Apple user’s data
In 2019, WhatsApp sued NSO saying it capitalized on the vulnerabilities of the system and got itself installed on 1400 phones. By Simply calling on the target, Spyware could easily download itself even if they never answer the call.
How can Pegasus Spyware harm you?
Having spyware in your cellphone is like handing over your cell phone to another person. There is no privacy left at all. The spyware can:
1) Go through Target’s messages and emails.
2) Listen to your calls.
3) Track Location.
4) Even film a person through a camera.
It is now hard to detect whether there is spyware downloaded on your cell phone or not.
What to do if Your Cell phone has Spyware:
It is very hard to detect this malware in your cell phone. However, you can still do the following things:
1) Install Anti-malware software on your cell phone. Don’t just download them from proxies. Buy them through proper channels.
2) Frequently change your cell phone. This step is for Politicians, influential people, military men, etc who can’t risk getting spied.
3) Avoid using Public USB Port for Mobile charging. The public USB port is usually available at airports, railway stations, or restaurants. Avoid using them as they can also invite spy software.
4) Avoid connecting Public WIFI. This can also lead to cybersecurity problems.
What does NSO have to say on Hacking Allegations:
NSO has termed the investigation’s findings “baseless” and “exaggerated”. The organization further clarified that it does not operate “the Pegasus” licensed to its clients and has no “insights” into their activities.
NSO Representative Hulio said that NSO has terminated contracts with two countries in the past 12 months. NSO did that because there were cases of human rights abuse. However, NSO didn’t mention those two names of the countries. He further said that we are also investigating the cybercrime allegations.
Amnesty International has urged the world to “take a break” from Spyware. In a statement, Amnesty International stated that Until we are sure Pegasus Spyware has not disrespected Human rights, we must not allow its usage, its export, and its sale.
How India has misused Pegasus Spyware | Hacking of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Modi’s rival Rahul Gandhi Cell phones:
India has attempted to hack the smartphones of Journalists, human rights activists, government officials, and politicians. In the list, the phone number of Rahul Gandhi and Pakistani Prime Minister is also there. This means that it was an unethical attempt by the Modi government which is illegal as well. Guardian and Washington Post have published that more than 1000 phone numbers are from India.
There is a strong response from Pakistan on this news. Pakistani Minister Fawad Chaudhary said Pakistan is waiting for a full detailed report. After it, we will use every forum to raise this hacking issue.
Rahul Gandhi said if the list is true, then Modi has shaken the foundation of democracy in India.
In addition to politicians, Journalists from Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, and The Wire are also on the hacking list.
The Indian government was also alleged in using these unethical cybercrime activities and hacking in 2019.
In a recent statement, the Indian government has categorically denied using Spyware. They claimed that the investigation was not concrete.