Last year, the espionage tool Pegasus, which is linked to the Israeli firm NSO, infected the phones of 50,000 journalists, activists, and politicians throughout the world. The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the Minister of Defense joined the list of victims on Monday. Margaret Oaks is a well-known author.
According to official sources, 2.6 terabytes and 130 megabytes of data were retrieved from Sánchez’s mobile phone in May of last year, while 9 megabytes of data were extracted from Robles’ cell phone in a single attack in June 2021. Nonetheless, the actual substance of this data is unknown at this time.
The Spanish authorities did not say whether the attacks were carried out by a foreign country or a huge multinational firm. The case has become well-known in the wake of allegations that pro-independence Catalan and Basque officials were subjected to surveillance while working with Pegasus.
What exactly is a pegasus?
It is a technology that allows people in charge to not only remotely access but also control and gather personal information from an infected machine.
According to an investigation conducted by the media consortium Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, 50,000 phones around the world could be the target of Pegasus spyware from the Israeli company NSO, as revealed by evidence obtained from a forensic analysis carried out on the phones themselves.
Pedro Sánchez, the President of the Spanish Government, was a victim of spyware, according to EFE.
Pegasus is a remote access tool (RAT) with spyware capabilities, according to Avast mobile threat analyst Jakub Vavra. It’s a tool that lets you remotely monitor a person’s phone and access features like the camera and microphone, as well as perform actions like screenshots and pulsation registration.
According to research, the surveillance program is loaded when the user clicks on a link from their phone, though it can also be installed without the link. Those in charge of him can harvest data from popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Viber, as well as email services and browsers, using him.
In 2020, Facebook accused NSO, a business it claims of infecting a network of computers in the United States in 2019 in order to hack hundreds of cellphones and spy on more than 1,4000 people using its WhatsApp messaging service.
What exactly is spyware?
This program is used for surveillance as a “highly focused” instrument. AFP photo
According to the analyst, “it is employed as a very selective tool,” as the program “is only used on a few persons, apparently for monitoring purposes.” Other spyware is known to propagate widely in order to gather large amounts of user data.
“Spyware’s low prevalence does not make it any less hazardous; the level of privacy damage to any individual under observation is unquestionably considerable,” argues Vavra. This is in keeping with the statement made by WhatsApp’s CEO, Will Cathcart, who claims that the program is used to “commit horrendous human rights abuses all around the world.”
The Washington Post and other sources have been unable to determine what the objective of the 50,000-name list was. They also have no idea who made the list or how many phones were hijacked.
The Israeli firm refuses to share its clients’ identities. AFP photo
They have been able to certify that 37 were infiltrated, even if it was only for a few seconds, for the time being.
NSO Group refused to name the governments to whom it sold spyware in an interview with The Washington Post.
When the respected Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto uncovered vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system in 2016, Pegasus made headlines.
Pegasus espionage, which took use of a WhatsApp weakness to infiltrate phones, claimed the lives of 1,400 people later in 2019, including several Catalan lawmakers.
Using data from government agencies.