An Israeli malware, known as Pegasus spyware, has targeted many officials across Europe. The malware has infected politicians’ smartphones from EU to No 10, and security agencies could not detect it. Many people are angry that democracies have failed to end the human rights violations committed with Pegasus spyware.
Pegasus Belongs to a Cyber-Arms Company
A watchdog has warned the UK government that Israeli-made spyware has infected the devices of UK officials. Citizen Lab has published a report about infection within the Prime Minister’s office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Citizen Lab has warned the UK government of multiple suspected instances of Pegasus spyware in 2020 and 2021. Citizen Lab is based at the University of Toronto, focusing on information and communication technology and human rights. It investigates digital surveillance against civil society and examines applications’ privacy, security, and information controls. This Group has said that Pegasus spyware has targeted the UK officials. Pegasus is a product of Israeli cyber-arms dealer NSO Group Technologies. This malware can infect billions of smartphone and computer networks across the world.
Spyware Infects Mobile Devices Secretly
Hackers have used this powerful Trojan horse spyware to steal data and spy on communication at Downing Street. Citizen Lab has found that Pegasus spyware has infected devices at the UK government office several times. According to Citizen Lab, the recent Pegasus infection links the UAE, India, Cyprus, and Jordan. Once the Israeli malware finds its way onto people’s devices, it can control all activities. It will have access to all photos and messages, and it can record phone calls and use the device’s camera and microphone. Both Android and iOS devices are vulnerable to Pegasus technology, and Pegasus can turn phones into 24-hour surveillance devices. Hackers can install malware like Pegasus spyware by sending a text message to a user. Sometimes, such spyware does not require users to click a link to exploit their smartphones.
Some Governments Use Malwares against Journalists
The UK National Cyber Security Centre has tested several officials’ smartphones but could not locate the infected device. The NCSC said that it could not determine the data’s nature, but the UK government spokesperson did not comment on the matter. The foreign office has paid £467 thousand earlier for support in another serious cyber security incident. Some governments use Pegasus spyware to target politicians, activists, and journalists.
The NSO Group has claimed that it sells Pegasus to “vetted government” agencies to use against crime. But investigations have shown the lack of regulation in the global surveillance industry. The NGO Forbidden Stories, Amnesty, the Guardian, and several other organizations have coordinated to do an investigation about Pegasus usage. They have concluded that right-wing populist governments and authoritarian regimes have used Pegasus spyware against activists, opposition politicians, and journalists.
Pegasus Targets Citizens across the World
Pegasus is the name of the most potent piece of spyware ever developed. Previous investigations have found that around 400 phone numbers were in a leaked list linked to NSO Group. The US Department of Commerce has blocked Pegasus spyware following the reports of its access to US technology. Israeli police have also used Pegasus spyware to hack the smartphones of Israeli government officials, activists, and prominent figures. The report has caused public anger, so Israel set up a national inquiry into using Pegasus spyware. Also, lawyers for three civil society leaders have threatened to sue NSO Group Technologies in the UK’s High Court. The lawyers have said Saudi Arabia and the UAE have hacked their clients’ smartphones with Pegasus spyware. The Group has already faced another lawsuit by Apple and Meta’s American companies. But it has denied any role in such surveillance.
EU Is a Target for Espionage
The European Parliament started investigating Pegasus spyware activities a few days ago. There are numerous cases of spying against Hungary, Poland, and Greece with Pegasus malware. Hackers used spyware to snoop on Catalan presidents and MEPs between 2017 and 2020. When MEPs worked in the European Parliament, Pegasus was spying on their communications. Several senior officials at the European Commission were also targeted with Pegasus spyware. Many EU countries are concerned about the spyware of the Israeli cyber-arm company, the NSO Group Technologies. Finland’s government had already announced that hackers used Pegasus spyware and infected the mobile devices of its diplomats. In a prior report, an investigation revealed that the spyware had been used to target politicians in the French government. The company has faced many lawsuits but rejected any responsibility for hacking attempts.
Governments Misuse Spywares
Pegasus is a military-grade spyware tool developed by the NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli company. Spies can install it remotely without leaving a trace and have full access to data on a device. Pegasus spyware can access every message users have sent or received on their smartphones. This spyware can read end-to-end encrypted messages on both Android and iOS devices. It can access videos, emails, and photos on a smartphone. The malware can turn on the microphone and camera to record. It can record what is on the screen and detect the GPS without the owner’s awareness. Pegasus spyware can pinpoint people and trace them easily. Several governments have been clients of Pegasus and abused the malware widely.
Citizen Lab Group has revealed the infection of Number 10 devices by an Israeli malware, Pegasus. The global spyware industry has operated in the shadows in the past. Now, governments and institutions are the clients of surveillance companies. It is a significant threat to democracy that several governments have used technology in an abusive way. They use software such as Pegasus spyware to access the smartphones of activists or journalists. Also, some states use the malware against other states and target political officials. Once Pegasus is on a smartphone, the idea of privacy is meaningless. Every person is a potential target, and governments must act to stop human rights violations by invasive spyware like Pegasus. They should prevent further human rights abuses and halt the sale and transfer of this surveillance technology.