“The Freedom of a country can only be measured by its respect for the rights of its citizens.” This is a statement from the book “Permanent Record” written by none other than Edward Snowden, the biggest whistle-blower of the new millennium.
How can a state proclaim that it values an individual’s right and the right to privacy when it sneaks into their lives and listens, observes, and monitors what they do?
The modular malware Pegasus has been designed for the same purpose. It would help people in power or a decisive position in the regime can procure the software and use it for their benefit.
Benefit means exterminating rivals, attaining unlawful info about the political opponents’ moves, tapping their telephonic conversations and messages, gain access to their political strategies, and listening to confidential media communications.
The Pegasus scam is such a revelation that it has sent tremors down the global community. For those who are unaware, Pegasus is the most sophisticated surveillance software designed and developed by Israel-based NSO Group.
The biggest factor, making it dangerous, is that it doesn’t require permission from the owner before accessing the phone. No, the spy software doesn’t need your permission to intrude into your mobile phones. You will never know how and when it entered the smartphone. The Pegasus software uses different techniques to obtain access to the target’s phone.
It can be a missed call, which the victim has never received. The software is so smart and advanced that it will erase the footprints. Pegasus would delete the call record from the call log and ensure that the prey is unaware of its arrival. The other methodology is through a malicious URL sent to the phone or the person clicked by mistake while browsing any other website. The third way is a bit more intricate. Pegasus would search for a bug in your system settings and use that route to enter the smartphone.
Such complex functions that the manufacturers and developers across the globe are mulling over ways and means to prevent this “Zero-click” attack.
Pegasus software attack was initially reported in 2016 on the phone of an Arab human rights activist. The spy, surveillance, software infiltrated his Apple iPhone through a vulnerability in the system. On noticing the incident, Apple rolled out a patch to eradicate the vulnerability.
In the subsequent year, 2017, it came to light that the software can attack Android-based phones as well. It had allegedly tapped into the WhatsApp conversations of several hundred eminent media personnel across the world. This has led to a legal confrontation of NSO Group with Facebook, with the latter registering a lawsuit.
On Sun, the 18th of July 2021, a consortium of media worldwide, “The Wire” from India, opened a Pandora’s Box. They were investigating the case for about six months. And had found that phones of several prominent individuals including central ministers, politicians, and media personnel are being hacked and monitored using this modular malware.
Going to be another Watergate scandal that is going to shock the government machinery not only in India but across the world also. The cascading effects of the revelations would be wide and deep. Consequently, France has announced an investigation into it. We will have to wait and see the actions of the rest of the governments in the world.
NSO Group issued a statement denying the claims and investigation reports. They said that the firm doesn’t provide the software to any individuals or private companies. This directly indicates that only government or government agencies can place a demand and own the Pegasus spyware.
The answer from the agency leads us again to the question from Snowden, “what is the meaning of freedom when our elected governments are peeping into our lives?”
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