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WhatsApp and Pegasus

  Jul 10, 2020

WhatsApp and Pegasus

What is this issue about?

The spyware, named Pegasus, was used to hack into any phone simply through a missed video call, predominantly via WhatsApp, giving the attackers unfettered access to the device, including location data, emails, passwords and even the ability to turn on its microphone and camera. It means hacker can know, to whom targeted people were meeting and what kind of discussion they are having. According to security firm Kaspersky, Pegasus is a tool of total surveillance.

Pegasus is meant to infiltrate smartphones silently and work on three things:  

  1. Collect historic data on device, 
  2. Continuously monitor activity 
  3. Transmit this data to a third party.

According to a report, 121 Indians were affected in the privacy breach. Spyware is developed by Israeli company NSO Group, WhatsApp filed suit against NSO group, the company denied the allegations.

What is profile of targeted people?

Targeted users roughly 1,400 around the world, including political dissidents, journalists and government officials, across the world. It is alleged that governments across the world contracted NSO to keep dissidents under continuous radar.

What is response of NSO group to allegations?

NSO denied the allegation, saying, the sole purpose of NSO is to provide technology to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and serious crime.

What is WhatsApp relation with India?

Out of total 1600 million global users 400m are in India. WhatsApp based rumors fake news led to spate of lynching last year. WhatsApp took many steps since then to deal with such issues.