The spyware was used to hack phones worldwide that belonged to reporters and HR activists, as per Washington Post.
Washington Post Investigated Pegasus Spyware
According to the Washington Post and its media partners, Pegasus spyware from an Israeli-owned company was used to hack 37 phones that belonged to journalists and activists around the world.
The Post found that the said spyware was utilized to target phones of the fiancee of the murdered columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The number appeared on a list of over 50,000 phone numbers said to be possible targets for surveillance by governments.
The spyware uses military-grade technology and it’s reported to be licensed by the NSO Group. The Post and its media partners shared the list of numbers.
But the NSO Group denied the Post’s findings in several statements. They argued that the findings were based on “misleading interpretation of leaked data from overt basic information.” They said that the report contains factual errors.
How does Pegasus Work?
Pegasus can hack into phones through a link. It can also surreptitiously record emails, text messages, and calls. This spyware is sold to select governments.
The program can activate itself without the need to click on the link.
Even though the Post published a list of numbers that were possible targets, it’s not known how many of them were actually surveilled.
Last month, the company published its yearly Transparency and Responsibility Report. The report showed that its products have been used by the government to stop or prevent major terrorist attacks.
Surveillance products are designed to deceive people. Companies that create this type of program can’t be trusted to hold themselves accountable. The Post’s investigation showed that the spyware industry can’t police itself.
Unfortunately, the governments are using national security to skirt surveillance abuses. Experts want regulation, transparency, and accountability.
In December 2020, some journalists at Al Jazeera Media Network became targets of Pegasus spyware. Researchers from Citizen Lab reported how the spyware infected the phones of journalists, anchors, producers, and executives at the said media network.
The Saudi authorities allegedly spied on Abdulaziz’s communications with Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi consulate in 2018.
The NSO website states that its technology allows the governments to prevent and investigate not just crime but also terrorism, thereby, saving thousands of lives around the world.
Experts said that hacking of the phones of journalists is a crime against journalists Because of this spyware, many journalists have been arrested and disappeared. If not, they were killed. One of those victims was Khashoggi.
The said spyware was also linked to fake Black Lives Matter websites.
Journalists remain under a constant threat of spyware attacks. Spyware is one of the prominent threats since the start of the Internet. It also remains to be so.
This malicious program collects information about you and uses it to the bad actor’s advantage.
Unfortunately, removing spyware isn’t as easy as uninstalling it. You need a full-system scan to disable it.