Pegasus Spyware – 'A Privacy Killer'

9 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2021

Date Written: July 21, 2021

Abstract

The recent Pegasus Project revelations of about half a lakh people across the world, including several in India, being targeted for cyber surveillance has firmly brought the spotlight on the Pegasus spyware, which is widely understood to be the most sophisticated smartphone attack tool. The revelations also mark the first time that a malicious remote jailbreak exploit had been detected within an iPhone.

Pegasus is a spyware (Trojan/Script) that can be installed remotely on devices running on Apple’s iOS & Google’s Android operating systems. It is developed and marketed by the Israeli technology firm NSO Group. NSO Group sells Pegasus to “vetted governments” for “lawful interception”, which is understood to mean combating terrorism and organized crime, as the firm claims, but suspicions exist that it is availed for other purposes.

Pegasus is a modular malware that can initiate total surveillance on the targeted device, as per a report by digital security company Kaspersky. It installs the necessary modules to read the user’s messages and mail, listen to calls, send back the browser history and more, which basically means taking control of nearly all aspects of your digital life. It can even listen in to encrypted audio and text files on your device that makes all the data on your device up for grabs.

Since Pegasus hacks into the operating system, every activity within the phone can be monitored when the phone is switched on. It's as if someone is monitoring your phone activity over your shoulders. Pegasus operators can remotely record audio and video from your phone, extract phone messages, use GPS for location tracking, and recover passwords and authentication keys without the user even noticing. It's only when a device is sent for forensic screening, and experts look into the transfer of data to and from the phone, is when a potential attack can be confirmed. The dooming fact of it all is that since Pegasus exploits zero-day vulnerabilities, there is nothing that can be done regarding such breaches unless operating system developers proactively ship out an update to your phone, aimed to protect you from hi-tech malware like Pegasus.

Keywords: Spyware, Malware, Antivirus, Virus, Cybersecurity, Cyber, IoT, Internet of Things, Privacy, Data, Security, Privacy, COVID, Coronavirus, Application, Facebook, United States of America, USA, INDIA, Artificial Intelligence, Ransomware, Cloud, Malicious, e-Mails

Suggested Citation

Chawla, Ajay, Pegasus Spyware – 'A Privacy Killer' (July 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3890657 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3890657

Ajay Chawla (Contact Author)

Delhi High Court ( email )

Delhi
India Gate
Delhi, 110003
India

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