New Delhi : The Israeli spyware – a produce of NSO company – was sold to government agencies across the globe and has tapped mobiles and iPhones of over 50,000 individuals worldwide since it first began to be used in 2015. NSO claims it never sold the malware to any private individuals or establishments and rather restricted its sale exclusively to government agencies.
Pegasus tapping began in India from mid-2017. Targeted for attacks were Opposition leaders, union ministers, a Supreme Court judge, journalists, human rights activists, businessmen and lawyers. If NSO claim be true, the central government is solely responsible for the illegal tapping that's happened here.
How It Works
Pegasus enters a device way of a seemingly innocent sms. The villain sms comes with a link and as soon as the link is opened, Pegasus lodges itself into the device. Once inside, it scoops and sends to agency all activities past and present available in the phone including messages, photos and videos. It also activates secret microphone and camera meaning, the agency can listen to all conversations and watch all video activity pertaining to that device. The software stops working when the phone is switched off but comes back live and kicking once it is turned on again. The only way to get rid of the bug is to throw away the phone for good.
A digital surveillance team “Citizen Lab” operating in Toronto University was the first to flag Pegasus tapping back in 2019. Following this, WhatsApp filed suit against NSO . The present tapping on global scale was unearthed by Amnesty International and a French media group named “Forbidden Stories”. Together, they published a list of more than 50,000 numbers that were spied upon by Pegasus following which, 17 media majors including The Wire tracked identities of who these numbers belonged to. They then subject a total of 67 phones from the list including 10 from India to forensic testing and confirmed they were all infected and tapped by Pegasus. Incidentally, forensic detection of Pegasus is done easier on iPhone than other devices.