From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Pegasus
Mains level : Whatsapp snooping
An online database about the use of the spyware Pegasus was recently launched by the Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab to document attacks against human rights defenders.
What is Pegasus?
- Last year, one of the biggest stories that broke into cyberspace was WhatsApp’s reports that 1,400 of its users were hacked by Pegasus, a spyware tool from Israeli firm NSO Group.
- All spyware do what the name suggests — they spy on people through their phones.
- Pegasus works by sending an exploit link, and if the target user clicks on the link, the malware or the code that allows the surveillance is installed on the user’s phone.
- A presumably newer version of the malware does not even require a target user to click a link.
- Once Pegasus is installed, the attacker has complete access to the target user’s phone.
Why is Pegasus dangerous?
- What makes Pegasus really dangerous is that it spares no aspect of a person’s identity. It makes older techniques of spying seem relatively harmless.
- It can intercept every call and SMS, read every email and monitor each messaging app.
- Pegasus can also control the phone’s camera and microphone and has access to the device’s location data.
- The app advertises that it can carry out “file retrieval”, which means it could access any document that a target might have stored on their phone.