Pegasus spyware

Pegasus is a spyware developed by the Israeli cyber arms firm NSO Group that can be covertly installed on mobile phones running most versions of iOS and Android. In November 2019, a tech reporter from New York City photographed an interception device displayed at Milipol, a trade show on homeland security in Paris. The exhibitor, NSO Group, placed the hardware at the back of a van, perhaps suggesting convenience of portability, and said it would not work on US phone numbers, possibly due to a self-imposed restriction by the firm. Until early 2018, NSO Group clients primarily relied on SMS and WhatsApp messages to trick targets into opening a malicious link, which would lead to infection of their mobile devices. A Pegasus brochure described this as Enhanced Social Engineering Message (ESEM). When a malicious link packaged as ESEM is clicked, the phone is directed to a server that checks the operating system and delivers the suitable remote exploit.

Pegasus infections can also be achieved via so-called “zero-click” attacks that do not require any interaction from the phone’s owner. It means that your phone could still be hacked even if you’re careful not to click on those malicious links. Most of these attacks exploit vulnerabilities in an operating system that the phone’s manufacturer may not yet know about and so has not been able to fix.

Many of the numbers were clustered in 10 countries: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the reports.

In India, more than 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and two ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government were reported to be on list. This included the opposition memeber, Rahul gandhi with two mobile phone numbers belonging to him found in the list. Mr Gandhi no longer has the devices so it was not possible to analyse them to determine if he had been hacked. India’s government has denied using unauthorised surveillance.