Technology companies are increasingly taking action against Pegasus spyware. But how does this spyware work? Six questions and answers.
1. What is Pegasus?
Pegasus was developed by Israeli company NSO Group, and was launched in 201
. This program can be used to access information on the phone.
It has proven useful in locating terrorists and criminals, but some European countries also use spy software. Activists, journalists and politicians.
2. Are there concrete examples of this?
Recently, the head of the Spanish intelligence agency CNI Paz Esteban has been fired. He previously admitted that his agency used Pegasus spyware to ring the phones of Catalan politicians, activists and lawyers.
At least 65 people have had their phones infected with spyware. The telephones of Catalan President Pierre Aragones and the Minister of Defense, Margherita Robles, have been under surveillance since last year.
The program has also been used to listen to political opponents in France, Hungary and Poland.
This can happen even in many European countries. It is currently being investigated whether this is also the case in the Netherlands.
3. How exactly does the program work?
In 2016, when Pegasus was discovered, users became infected by clicking on a link. Then technology became more advanced.
Today, the software makes extensive use of so-called zero-day vulnerabilities. These are the vulnerabilities in the operating systems of phone manufacturers that you have not yet discovered. By exploiting these vulnerabilities, malware can be injected into your phone without the user’s knowledge.
. What kind of information is collected? Malicious software infects your phone, and then it can read almost anything. For example, the program can transcribe messages, display photos, and record conversations. With all the information collected by the program, it is possible to find out where the user is and with whom.
5. What do technology companies do with software?
Apple announced this week that it is working to create a protected case. It is designed for people exposed to spyware, such as activists, journalists and politicians. The lock mode is supposed to be available for iPhone, iPad and Mac this fall.
In the past, Apple and Google released software updates to plug holes. In addition, Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO Group in the United States. Facebook did the same.
6. What does the NSO Group say about the program?
NSO claims to have good intentions for the program. The company describes Pegasus as “a technology that helps governments detect and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives.”
In addition to governments, dozens of intelligence and research agencies around the world use NSO software. NSO said it is only the software vendor and has no idea what the government and services will do next.