Is your mobile data safe? Are you being monitored by some organization or an individual? These are the common questions that can cross your mind when you think about data protection on your mobile device. Within a century we have developed from sending a single text to sharing thousands of information within just a second to the receiver.
The main reason is a technology and the internet. We are more connected with each other in the virtual world than at any other time of civilization. We can access any information we want in a blink of a second. But like everything, it has its downsides too. Your data is exposed to the virtual world and anybody with the wrong intention can misuse it. Your data can be hacked using any powerful spyware. Such powerful spyware that made headlines worldwide recently is Pegasus.
Today we will discuss what is Pegasus spyware and how does it work in length. We will be also discussing how Pegasus spyware was discovered and why governments use it to monitor civilians.
How Was Pegasus, A Powerful Spyware Was Discovered And When?
If you are hearing about Pegasus for the first time then you might question yourself when Pegasus got discovered. People become more conscious about the rights of data privacy after 2016. It was after that time when mobile users got to know they are being monitored against their consent. In 2016, A Canadian cybersecurity organization called “ The Citizen Lab” first discovered the spyware which is known as Pegasus.
Ahmed Mansoor, who is a human rights activist, found a strange link regarding tortured prisoners in the country. He immediately sent the link to the “The Citizen Lab” at the University of Toronto. The cybersecurity specialists started a deep analysis of the link to trace back the origin. They found that the link traced back to the infrastructure belonging to the NSO Group.
Pegasus is an Israeli-based hacking software that can infect billions of mobile devices. It uses a special type of method to trap the devices called spear-phishing until 2016. When people got to know what is Pegasus software, the general people got more concerned about how to protect data from Pegasus Spyware.
How Does Pegasus Invade Mobile device’s security?
It is important to understand how does Pegasus spyware infects a mobile device for being cautious. As mentioned earlier, until 2016, the hacking software Pegasus used the spear-phishing method to trap any mobile user. This method is very simple but very effective to acquire the data of any mobile phone user.
At first, it sends a link to the targeted user which contains the malicious spyware. The link is sent through text message or email. By just clicking on the link, your mobile device will grant remote access to the Pegasus spyware. Spyware can access anything it wants including your mobile data and activities.
After Pegasus was exposed, it switched to the so-called ‘zero-click method. This method is even more dangerous than the previous as well as much harder to detect. To infect the device the spyware doesn’t have to interact with the user even. It can send a call to the user and without even picking the call the Pegasus spyware can gain backdoor access to the targeted user’s device.
It uses the zero-day vulnerabilities of the operating systems as an advantage. Zero-day vulnerabilities are the flaws or bugs in an operating system that the manufacturers haven’t been able to fix. This gives the Pegasus spyware an excellent opportunity to hide in plain sight and collect the mobile device’s data.
What happens When Your mobile is infected by Pegasus Spyware?
The last thing you want is to get your mobile device hacked by Pegasus Spyware. Every data you have in your device storage is at risk. Once infected, the spyware will have backdoor access to everything you own in the device. It can monitor all the messages, photos, videos, information that have been shared or received.
Once it is installed, it can harvest any data it wants and collect them back to the attacker. What’s scarier is that it can access your camera anytime you want and also record the footage of you. Moreover, Pegasus can record and hear the in-call conversation. It can directly access the hard drive of your device so all your photos and videos are at risk.
What Types Of Apps Pegasus Uses To Infiltrate the Mobile Device?
The biggest social media platforms use an end-to-end encryption method to protect your data. This method scrambles the message you sent to someone and becomes encrypted. The encrypted data is sent to the server which has the public key. Another copy of the encrypted data is sent to the receiver who has the private key. The server cannot read the message using the public as the data has not been organized yet. On the other hand, the receiver has a private key by which the data can be safely decrypted.
Even having such a strong defense against data intrusion, Pegasus still manages to infiltrate the messages of targeted mobile devices. Whatsapp is well known for having a strong end-to-end data protection system. Yet in 2019, WhatsApp revealed that NSO’s software has been used to send malware to more than 1400 phones. It was shocking news to the public as Pegasus exploited the zero vulnerabilities of the operating systems.
The spyware didn’t stop at Whatsapp. Recently it has been found that Apple’s iMessage is at risk too. Even though Apple’s operating system is well built and has fewer bugs than any other operating system on the market. It still has some vulnerabilities and Pegasus used that advantage to exploit. The vulnerabilities provide backdoor access to millions of iPhones and allow them to collect all the data.\
If you are interested you can Hire an Ethical Hacker to Hack a WhatsApp Account.
Why Governments Use Pegasus Spyware?
It might seem surprising but there are some strong reasons why the governments of many nations use Pegasus Spyware. The main reason is to catch the most wanted criminals that are in hiding. Is also an essential tool to collect the evidence needed when a suspect is being monitored.
Many times, law enforcement doesn’t have enough evidence or proof to arrest a criminal. And the best way to collect any evidence is when the criminal is unalarmed that he is being monitored. Since Pegasus can record any conversation of voice text and voice, it gives law enforcement a head start.
Remember Pablo Escobar? the biggest kingpin during the 1980s. He was taken down because the government of the USA was able to put surveillance and monitor every track of his largest drug operation Using Pegasus Spyware. The surveillance made sure the DEA always remained one step ahead of him.
Not only the USA but also various nation’s governments secretly purchase Pegasus Spyware from the Israeli company NSO Group. To protect the nation from any terrorist attack or other potential threat, the government puts surveillance on mass people without them knowing.
Here are some reports of using Pegasus Spyware by various nations at a mass scale:
- In July 2021, 6000 and more Algerian phones were being targeted using Pegasus spyware by Morocco. Politicians and high-ranking military officials were included in the list of targets.
- Recently it has come to light that, Indian government used Pegasus to spy on journalists, bureaucrats, journalists. Especially during the election, the opposition’s movements and activities were strictly monitored. Later reports also reveal that the spyware has been also used to spy on the Pakistan Prime minister and other diplomats from Iran, China, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.
How To Protect Your Mobile From Pegasus Spyware?
This high-end spyware is not only dangerous but also widely used by many officials or organizations around the world. So it is necessary to know how to protect yourself from Pegasus spyware. The ways to secure your device are as follows-
- Always make sure to update your operating system to the latest version. The latest version includes security patches for vulnerabilities and malware. More security patches ensure fewer chances for Pegasus spyware to attack your mobile.
- Never open a link from an unknown source. When you receive a link make sure you are familiar with the person sending the link and verify.
- It is necessary to maintain secure communication such as messages and calls that are not vulnerable to Pegasus. This lowers the chances of you being monitored by any spyware.
In conclusion, It’s necessary to know what is Pegasus spyware and how does it work to be one step ahead. The spyware is getting more developed and much harder to detect even though security patches are fixing the existing bug. Your mobile won’t be 100% safe from spyware but it’s better learning about the threat than staying in the dark. At the end of the day, it’s your data that is being spied on. So you have every right to protect and act against it.