Pegasus, which is allowing governments around the world to spy on people, turning their smartphones into effectively fully-fledged surveillant devices that can record audio, record video. Look at the photos they’ve got, look at the messages they’ve got, and so on.
So today I am going to explain, what is Pegasus spyware?
People often wanted to look at what is Pegasus. How does it work?
Pegasus is spyware, that is used to turning someones’ smartphones into fully-fledged surveillance devices. Pegasus was developed and maintained by an Israeli tech firm named “NSO Group”. NSO Group sells Pegasus spyware to governments only. Pegasus was first discovered in August 2016 on iOS. Pegasus is capable to run on Android and iOS up to 14.6.
What is Pegasus spyware?
Pegasus is spyware, that is used to turning someones’ smartphones into fully-fledged surveillance devices. Pegasus was developed and maintained by an Israeli tech firm named “NSO Group”. NSO Group sells Pegasus spyware to governments only. Pegasus was first discovered in August 2015 on iOS. Pegasus is capable to run on Android and iOS up to 14.6.
As I already said, Pegasus spyware is only available for Governments, this means this is very difficult to say anything about it, but this does not mean we do not have any information about Pegasus spyware, back in 2018 there was a leaked version of Pegasus, which help us to understand Pegasus spyware more further.
Accounting to the History of Pegasus spyware and online sources, Pegasus spyware is capable to perform zero-click attacks. This means Pegasus spyware can gain unauthorized access to your smartphone.
History of Pegasus spyware
August 2015 – First Discovery
On August 1st, 2015, a man named Ahmed Mansoor received two suspicious text messages containing a link to an unknown website that supposedly contained secrets about Emiratis being tortured in state prisons. Ahmed Mansoor, who is a well-known civil rights activist from the U.A.E., is frequently targeted by spyware and decided to forward the text messages to two organizations: Lookout and Citizen Lab. Lookout is a mobile security company that investigates and helps prevent malware and spyware on both private and business mobile devices. Citizen Lab is a University of Toronto-based research group that studies information controls impacting the security of human rights. When Lookout received the text messages sent to Mansoor, they opened the link on a factory-reset iPhone running on iOS 9.3.3 and watched as the spyware opened a blank page in Safari that closed after 10 seconds, silently installing Pegasus onto the phone.
Citizen Lab recognized the link from previous research as belonging to a private Israeli spyware company called the NSO Group, linking them to the creation of Pegasus. The NSO Group is a cyberwar company that builds spyware to be sold for millions of dollars to governments. They claim that all of their products are used for lawful interception by their customers to “help them combat terror and crime.” Because of the connection to NSO Group, it is assumed that the issuer of the attack was the U.A.E. government, especially considering their previous attacks on Mansoor and their ability to fund spyware such as Pegasus.
May 2019 – WhatsApp cyberattack
Pegasus spyware was reportedly used to spy on Indians, a new report says. In 2019, WhatsApp brought the matter to light when it sued NSO Group for its Pegasus spyware that was allegedly used to snoop on journalists, activists, lawyers, and senior government officials in 20 countries around the world, in May 2019. WhatsApp revealed that it has contacted several Indian users who are believed to be the targets of illegal snooping using the Pegasus spyware.
Although the seeming confirmation about the use of Pegasus came after WhatsApp sued NSO Group, the use of Pegasus has long been suspected in the WhatsApp cyberattack that was first reported in 2019.
July 2021 – leak 50,000+ Phone Numbers
A list of over 50,000 phone numbers believed to have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016 became available to Paris-based media nonprofit organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International.
They shared the information with 17 news media organizations in what has been called “Project Pegasus”, and a months-long investigation was carried out, which reported from mid-July 2021. The Pegasus Project involved 80 journalists from the media partners: The Guardian (UK), Radio France and Le Monde (France), Die Zeit (Germany), The Washington Post (United States), Haaretz/TheMarker (Israel), Süddeutsche Zeitung, Aristegui Noticias, Proceso, OCCRP, Knack, Le Soir, The Wire (India), Daraj, Direkt36 (Hungary), and PBS Frontline. Evidence was found that many phones with numbers in the list had been targets of Pegasus spyware.
This list includes the mobile number of well-known personalities including, Pavel Durov (The founder of Telegram).
How to detect Pegasus spyware?
There is no app or anti-virus that can detect Pegasus spyware. This is because Pegasus is close-sourced and actively get updates, therefore it’s almost impossible to detect Pegasus spyware, but there is a CLI project named MVT (Mobile Verification Toolkit) developed and released by the Amnesty International Security Lab in July 2021 in the context of the Pegasus project along with a technical forensic methodology and forensic evidence.