Pegasus spyware is described in detail, including who its clients are and how it entraps victims

Israeli spyware is back in the news, with reports claiming that it tracked several public figures in India and elsewhere. According to a global consortium of media outlets, the phones of union ministers, opposition leaders, journalists, and activists in India were bugged by activating spyware.

Learn more about the malicious software’s origins, patrons, and functions.

• The Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO Group developed the Pegasus spyware.

• The company began operations in 2010. According to 2015 statistics, income was 15 billion dollars (Rs 1080 crore)

• In 2017, the company’s first owners, Francisco Partners, sold it for 100 crore US dollars. Novalpina Capital, a European private equity fund, later invested in the company.

• The Israeli Defense Ministry has granted NSO permission to sell the spyware only to government clients.

• According to the NSO, Pegasus is only used to track down terrorists and hardened criminals. NSO, on the other hand, openly admits in its transparency report that the software is being abused.

Other NSO items

• In addition to Pegasus, NSO has other tech intelligence products. In addition to preventing drone intrusion, the stated goal is to track down terrorists, drug traffickers, and paedophiles.

From El Chapo to Khashoggi, the list goes on.

• In 2011, the Mexican government used an earlier version of Pegasus to apprehend Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” Joaquin Guzman.

• Citizen Lab in Canada revealed in 2016 that Pegasus was used to spy on UAE human rights activist Ahmed Manzoor.

• There were reports that Saudi Arabia used Pegasus to track journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.

• It is claimed that in 2019, the call detail records of Indian human rights activists and journalists were hacked. The phone records of the lawyer who represented those arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon incident were also obtained.

How Pegasus captures you

• The first step is to make a WhatsApp video call to the phone that will be hacked for spying purposes.

• The call is disconnected before the person on the other end picks up.

• Previously, spyware was installed automatically by exploiting WhatsApp’s shortcomings in handling missed calls. Later, WhatsApp fixed these flaws.

• In addition to missed calls, Pegasus reached out to phones via links sent as messages.

• The spyware is capable of stealing passwords, phone numbers, SMS messages, and live calls. It can also activate the camera and microphone. It’s known as “jail breaking.”

 

Client information is kept strictly confidential.

• The spyware has up to 60 government clients in 40 countries.

• Clients include intelligence agencies (51%), law enforcement (38%), and the armed forces (11 percent ).

Misuse is prohibited.

• Over the last five years, NSO has barred ten government clients from using Pegasus.

• Over a one-year period, the company decided to abandon 15% of its business opportunities due to human rights concerns. The total value of the business was Rs 2,238 crore.

• Because of the risk of misuse, it decided not to provide services to 55 countries.

How countries are identified

• The countries are classified as A, B, C, or D. Countries with the highest risk are classified as D.

• In the following phase, each category receives a score of 100 points. Services are only available to A, B, and C category countries with more than 60 points. Countries with less than 20 points are excluded.

• Points are assigned based on each country’s history and previous incidents.

How countries are identified

• The countries are classified as A, B, C, or D. Countries with the highest risk are classified as D.

• In the following phase, each category receives a score of 100 points. Services are only available to A, B, and C category countries with more than 60 points. Countries with less than 20 points are excluded.

• Points are assigned based on each country’s history and previous incidents.

Other types of spyware

• Other spyware companies include Candiru, Variant, Quadrim, and Cellebrite.

• Using Microsoft’s flaws, Candiru hacked hundreds of information and details from ten different countries.

• Microsoft released a new update just a few days ago to address the flaws.

The details of the Bhima Koregaon incident were also leaked.

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