Pegasus: the spyware technology

 Pegasus: the spyware technology

Pegasus: the spyware technology



 With just a single text, it can bypass your phone's security and install spyware that grants complete access to your device. It can access every message you've ever sent, it can access every message you've ever received, it can access every photo, every video, every email,it can turn on your microphone, it can turn on the microphone even when you're not using a phone call, just record what you're doing in the room. It can turn on your camera,it can record what's on your screen, it can access your GPS, it can monitor your location.


 And it can do all of this without you ever knowing. The spyware technology that makes this possible is called Pegasus.


 Pegasus is probably the most advanced piece of spyware ever developed. It is effectively the most invasive form of surveillance imaginable. Any idea that you had that aspects of your life could be kept private and on the mobile phone are wrong. So if you are someone who thinks that you're safe because you use WhatsApp which is end-to-end encrypted or you use Signal, it really is meaningless once that Pegasus is on your phone. Pegasus can infect both iOS and Android while remaining virtually undetectable. So one of the ways that Pegasus will attack your phone is through what's called a zero-day vulnerability. This is a vulnerability that the phone's manufacturer doesn't yet know exists. Pegasus is the main product of a company called NSO Group which is an Israeli surveillance company. So the people who are using this spyware are government clients, these will be governments around the world that the NSO Group have sold a copy of Pegasus to. A Guardian investigation can now reveal widespread abuse of Pegasus by NSO's government clients. The reason this investigation is so extraordinary is that we at the Guardian have gained access through Forbidden Stories to a treasure trove. Tens of thousands of records. The leaked records include the phone numbers of thousands of people who have been selected as potential targets by governments with access to Pegasus. Before we had an inkling that this technology was being used in abusive way but now the doors have been just thrown wide open and we have a much greater insight into the scale of the abuse that has occurred. Just because a number appears in this list it doesn't mean it was definitely hacked, but in some cases we've been able to go and check, we've done forensics on the phone that the person was using at the time and in dozens of cases we found traces of either an attempted or a successful Pegasus infection. What we know about NSO Group and what they've said for years is that this is a law enforcement tool, but I think what our investigations really revealed is the extent to which   that is just a complete, you know, fantasy narrative. The implications of this software being used widely are effectively an end to privacy for the people who are targeted by it. That has very very serious ramifications for how people who have legitimate secrets, which is everyone, go about living their lives. The most serious implications of something like Pegasus is that it makes it much more unlikely that a dictatorial regime will become a democracy. Because those were already regimes and systems that were obsessive about trying to monitor their populations so they can control them and prevent them from, you know, rising up and overthrowing them and this technology exponentially increases your capacity to do that. I do believe it poses a greater threat to democracy.

 It's exposing that a lot of these technologies that we think are meant to keep us safer are on our phones and even if we're somewhat aware of it that they're really not keeping us safe. 

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