Tech UPTechnologyBeware of Pegasus: This is the spyware that activates...

Beware of Pegasus: This is the spyware that activates your mobile's camera and steals photos without you noticing

Many experts rate this spyware as the most advanced in digital espionage technology. Security researchers from around the globe have revealed evidence of Pegasus , software created by the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO, on dozens of mobile phones belonging to activists, human rights workers, journalists and businessmen. They seem to have been the subject of secret surveillance by software intended to help governments hunt down criminals and terrorists, and as the weeks go by, more and more cases of Pegasus-infected mobiles are being discovered, some of the latest belonging to to the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez.

What is Pegasus?

Pegasus is the flagship product of NSO. It can be installed remotely without the victim having to open a document or link to a website, as is often the case with phishing scams. Once inside the phone, Pegasus has full access to text messages, photos, emails, videos, contact lists, etc., and can record phone calls. It can also secretly turn on a phone’s microphone and cameras to get images and audio. All this without the affected person realizing it.

General security practices like updating your phone’s software and two-step verification can help keep conventional hackers at bay, but it’s really hard to protect yourself when hackers are skilled and well-funded. Pegasus incorporates an attack technology known as “zero click”, which exploits vulnerabilities in the software of applications such as Apple Messages or WhatsApp to silently install software.

Although the cases of mobile phones infected with Pegasus affect politicians and personalities around the world, anyone who has a smartphone is exposed to being infected. In fact, the human rights NGO Amnesty International is warning that there are most likely independent hackers who use this type of technology to attack anyone’s phones, and details how these services can be contracted through the Deep Web in exchange for a payment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

A silent and almost undetectable virus

Back in September, Apple fixed a security hole that Pegasus exploited to install it on iPhones. Malware often exploits vulnerabilities to get into a device and then expand privileges to become more powerful. NSO Group software also runs on Android phones. The European Commission has warned that if the accusations are verified, the use of Pegasus violates the freedom of the press, one of the fundamental values of the EU.”

How can I know if my phone has been infected?

Amnesty International has released an open source gadget called MVT (Mobile Verification Toolkit) which is designed to detect traces of Pegasus. The software runs on any computer and analyzes data, including backup files exported from an iPhone or Android phone.

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