What is Pegasus Software?
Pegasus, is a spyware designed by an Israeli group NSO, has come back as a major problem to the privacy. As the Prime Minister held a meeting with all the parties and oppositions, the words have been spread about the alleged wire tapping of high level government officials including ministers and politicians along with well known journalists and other personalities.
Pegasus came into the picture back in 2016 as it tried to take the control over the device of a human rights activist in UAE, Ahmed Mansoor. Also other iPhone user phones were tried to hack at the same time.
In the case of Ahmed Mansoor, he got a link through a message on his iPhone which promised to give him the information about the prisoners being tortured in the jail if he clicks on the link provided. Fortunately (and simultaneously unfortunately for the hackers) instead of getting overwhelmed and clicking on the given link, Ahmed Mansoor took the message at Citizen Lab to trace the source of the links which lead back to the NSO Group.
Apple claimed on clearing the possibilities and improving the problems due to which the spyware was able to break in. However the spyware was later found to be affecting Android users.
Nevertheless NSO Group claims to be a good company playing its role in helping the country’s progress. The company commented that It creates technology for the government agencies to investigate problems concerning the security of the nation. They think of themselves so high as to say that they help solve cases and save lives all around the world. Their policy states that the entity using the tool should not use it to harm any person’s privacy but rather should use it only in the cases of serious crimes and national emergency. The company is blamed to what has been done to peoples privacy all over the globe.
How India faced with this spyware?
The spyware drew attention in India back in 2019 when a wide range of allegations were made followed by the complaints that the spyware was used to hack and access the private information of the journalists and social activists. As we will see further how WhatsApp is related with this spyware issue, we will get better understanding how the Facebook owned messaging application, WhatsApp stated its comments on the matter and why.
WhatsApp said that a dozen of Indian users including human activists and journalists were looked upon by the secret agencies (secret here refers to the ones whose identity was not known although not being a secretly operating national or some other entity). Back in May 2019, a minimum of 12 Indians were affected by the use of Israeli Spyware.
How Pegasus effects WhatsApp?
As Facebook learned, that its users through its other brand, WhatsApp were affected by the spyware. WhatsApp immediately informed the users in India about this act through a message. Soon after that, WhatsApp filed a law suit against NSO Group blaming NSO group responsible for the alleged hack of about 1400 people. The other tech giants including Microsoft and Google supported WhatsApp with the issue.
However the NSO group declined to take the account for the misuse of the software and said that the sole motive they have is to protect national security and reduce crimes. Moreover, the request was denied in the court in July 2020 for taking away the license of NSO Group’s exports after considering all the major cases filed against the organization.
The spyware is more smooth than the others as it will not let you be a bit suspicious and do its work without having interacted with the user for multiple times which might lead to the user become a little suspicious. We saw the part where victims are sent a link through a message. But then why is WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook so much concerned about this?
The person intending to hack someone’s device with the use of this software or spyware can smoothly do his work through a simple missed call on your WhatsApp. Yes. That is it and the hacking begins. The security bugs in calls on WhatsApp are used here and the victim is given a missed call which is later deleted followed by other hacking work.
As the spyware procedure is done and it has been installed, it deletes the call history and here you are hacked and you do not even know what just happened to you. After the spyware is in your device it can access all your private information including photos, messages, call logs and e-mails.
NSO group has denied all the allegations and the recent incidents in India is suggesting hacking of the devices of prominent personalities we hope that the IT department under the government comes up with some solution to protect the personal privacy and national security in India.