Pegasus is once again making headlines after the Guardian and the Washington Post along with a few other news websites claimed that more than 10 governments are using Pegasus to spy on activists, journalists, and key media personalities. As per reports, more than 40 Indian journalists were also under surveillance through this spyware.
What is Pegasus?
Pegasus is a spyware developed by NSO Group, an Israeli company. It shot to fame for the first time in 2016 when an Arab activist received a suspicious text. It is claimed to be the “most sophisticated smartphone attack ever.”
Pegasus used to target iPhone devices, which made Apple release an updated iOS to prevent it from affecting any more of its smartphones. Reportedly, the latest version of the iOS successfully fixed the security flaws that let the spyware manage to hack. A year later, it was reported to be able to affect Android devices as well.
It created a lot of buzz in 2019 when it was first revealed to be spying on human rights activists and journalists across the world, including India.
How is the Spyware Get Installed on a Phone?
Previously it used to access devices through a malicious web link sent through an email or a text. If anybody clicked on the link, it would get installed on the device. Later, Pegasus developed certain new abilities. Research shows that it could get installed on phone even by a missed WhatsApp call.
What’s more dangerous is the fact that once it is installed on a smartphone, it could delete the call logs making it impossible for the user to know that the phone was targeted by spyware.
How Pegasus Can Affect Your Smartphone?
Upon installation, the spyware contacts control services and then relays commands to gather information from the device. If Pegasus manages to attack your device, it will be able to access your end-to-end encrypted chats.
This spyware will be able to track your calls, steal passwords, and contacts. It can access the camera, GPS, microphone and can even check out all of your app activities. Accessing data of video or voice calls made using WhatsApp is well within its capacity.
How to Prevent it in Your Phone?
Pegasus is surely the most sophisticated spyware but it has its limitation too. You can prevent it from affecting your smartphone by keeping your device always updated. Most companies have a high level of security in terms of apps and phones, which they keep on updating now and then for enhancing security.
If you have the latest versions of all the apps you use on your Android or iPhone, the chances of your smartphone getting hacked become slim. It is also important on your part to keep checking the security of all your social media accounts. Take necessary steps as and when required. Refrain from clicking on suspicious-looking links or messages and delete the same immediately.
How to Get Rid of Pegasus?
Experts and analysts claim that there is no way to get rid of Pegasus from your phone once it is infected. You would need to discard the phone. Even factory resetting cannot help to get rid of Pegasus completely.
The attackers will have access to all your online accounts even after the phone is cleaned. Ensure that the passwords of all cloud-based accounts, services, and apps on your new phone are changed as well.
Should You be Concerned about Pegasus?
While you need to be concerned about your digital privacy and ensure that it is properly maintained but you do not necessarily need to worry about Pegasus.
It has become outdated now and most software companies and applications have patched up the security loopholes that let Pegasus get installed previously. Although, nobody can deny that there are no new variants of Pegasus or similar spyware.
However, you still do not need to worry because spyware like this are expensive and are used by governments and big corporates as surveillance tool on targeted people.
Pegasus or similar spyware is generally used against lawyers, journalists, politicians, top business leaders, and other important personalities who might have access to sensitive information. If you do not fall into the category of these professions or people, your phone has a limited chance of getting infected with Pegasus and the likes.