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  • Writer's pictureNexix Security Labs

Pegasus Spyware: What is it? How does it infect your Device?

Pegasus Spyware

Pegasus- Created by NSO Group, an Israeli tech firm, Pegasus Spyware was created to help governments, investigation agencies to target bad elements to spy &, retrieve information from them and thus leading to the welfare of the society. According to them, ‘It’s a law enforcement tool. But rather it’s being used by bodies to spy on different people and retrieving information from them too.’ Thus it has proved to be the lion’s share foray of surveillance.

Some of the authoritarian governments that used Pegasus to spy on critics and opponents are listed below-

  • Indian Government: Phone numbers of Indian ministers, opposition leaders, ex-election commissioners, and journalists are assertively found on a database of NSO hacking targets by Project Pegasus in 2021.

  • Mexican Drug Cartels: They use Pegasus to target and daunt Mexican journalists by drug cartels.

  • Saudi Arabia: Pegasus was used by Saudi to spy on Jamal Khashoggi, Jeff Bezos.

The invader just needs to feed the Pegasus scheme on the target phone number for network injection, following it all else is involuntarily done by the scheme. While if network injection doesn’t work, then altering one’s default phone browser is tried. Furthermore, if it not works, according to the brochure it can be even manually injected and installed within five minutes.

Explained by ‘the Guardian’ as follows,” With just a single text, it bypasses your phone’s security and installs spyware that grants complete access to your device. It can access every message you have sent, …ever received." Say it every single photo, video, email, can be accessed by it. Moreover, it can turn on the microphone and camera, even when the cell is not being used, and record every single detail within the walls. The GPS can be accessed, to monitor the location. And this all can be done by it, without us ever getting known about this. Pegasus is doubtlessly the most advanced bit of spyware build up to date.

Consequently thought of keeping facets of your life concealed on a mobile phone can be discarded. Though WhatsApp or Signal is end-to-end encrypted, all these encryptions would stand out as worthless once Pegasus is on your machine. Not only android but iOS can also be infected by Pegasus and remain virtually undetected. And what facilitates it is the zero-day vulnerability of which the manufacturer is unknown of its existence. Some of the iOS vulnerabilities include-

  • CVE-2016-4655: Information Leak in the kernel; it leaks information to the striker by letting them estimate the kernel’s location in memory.

  • CVE-2016-4656: Kernel memory corruption leads to jailbreak; it enables striker to covertly jailbreak the device followed by installing surveillance software.

  • CVE-2016-4657: Memory corruption in the WebKit; enables the striker to conciliate the device when the user clicks the link.

According to the developers, the unsurpassed defense technique against Pegasus takes in to have complete control of the software by the end-users to inspect, detect the vulnerabilities, and hardware for switching components physically. Staying newfangled with each operating system and security patches by manufacturers can be the finest precaution one could adopt. Additionally, as the spyware dwells in hardware, altering devices periodically helps to a major extent because here the striker will need to infect the new handset on every alteration.

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