What is Pegasus spyware, how does it work, how does it hack WhatsApp?

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A new report says that Pegasus spyware was allegedly used to spy on Indians. In 2019, WhatsApp brought this matter to light. She sued Israeli spyware maker NSO Group in May 2019 over the Pegasus spyware it allegedly used to spy on journalists, activists, lawyers and senior government officials in 20 countries around the world, including India. WhatsApp revealed that it has contacted several Indian users who are believed to have been the targets of illegal spying using the Pegasus spyware.

However the seeming confirmation about the use of Pegasus came after WhatsApp sued NSO Group. The use of Pegasus has long been suspected in the WhatsApp cyberattack that was first reported in 2019.

What is Pegasus and how does it infect devices?

at the University of Toronto The Citizen Lab According to Reuters, which helped WhatsApp investigate the cyberattack, Pegasus is the flagship spyware from Israel-based NSO Group. It is believed that it is also known by other names like Q Suite and Trident. Pegasus reportedly has the ability to infiltrate both Android and iOS devices and uses multiple methods to hack into targets’ mobile devices, including using zero-day exploits.

In the case of WhatsApp, Pegasus has said that it exploited a vulnerability in the WhatsApp VoIP stack that is used to make video and audio calls. Just a missed call on WhatsApp gave Pegasus access to the target’s device.

What can Pegasus do?

Pegasus is a versatile piece of spyware and as soon as it is installed on the target’s device, it starts contacting the control server, which can then relay commands to collect data from the infected device. Pegasus can steal information such as passwords, contacts, text messages, calendar details, and even voice calls made using messaging apps. Furthermore, it can also spy by using the phone’s camera and microphone as well as GPS to track live location.

Who was hacked using Pegasus in India?

Details of how many people in India were hacked using Pegasus via WhatsApp are unclear. However, a WhatsApp spokesperson confirmed to Tech News by Careers Ready that Indian users were among those contacted by the company during the May 2019 cyber attack.
WhatsApp has a blog post “We sent a special WhatsApp message to approximately 1,400 users whom we have reason to believe were affected by the (May 2019) attack to directly inform them,” it wrote.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has also not said anything about who was behind the cyber attack and illegal spying. NSO Group has also denied any wrongdoing and claims the company only sells spyware to “vetted and legitimate government agencies”.

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