What is Pegasus Spyware?

Santript Mehta
4 min readJul 30, 2021

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Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Today, in this advanced era, incidents like hacking, cyberattacks, and data breaches are increasing fast. And, the recent news we are familiar with popular Spyware that is Pegasus Spyware.

First, we need to understand what is Spyware. Spyware is a sort of malicious software that gets installed on any computer and mobile device without your content, to steal your data or damage the system.

Pegasus Spyware:-

This is malicious software developed by the Israeli Cyber intelligence firm NSO groups. It is mainly designed to hack the computer or mobile devices to get access to the device and retrieve data from the user without any consent and that deliver it to the third party who is actually spying on you. However, the organization of this Spyware claims that it is intended to help government authorities to be used against terrorists and criminals by spying on them. Pegasus has first identified around 4 years ago when a human rights activist from the UAE received a text message that was actually a phishing setup. He sent these messages to the security agency and it was found out that if he (the user) had opened those links — his phone would have been infected with the malware, named Pegasus.

Its work:-

Pegasus Spyware attacks the devices so precisely that even the device owner might not have any idea about it. You can better understand this with a situation like even a WhatsApp missed call (yes, it's right….a missed call) can make the Pegasus Spyware hack your device. Other than that, based on various standard reports, it has been observed that Pegasus is using a variety of endpoints to attack the devices such as it is using iMessage to attack iPhones.

Its using zero-click the device owner even isn’t required to click on the message, mail, link, etc. or to give any input to make the malware work. if the user finds something suspicious and deletes the message — the spyware would still infect the device.

And once the Pegasus gets into your smartphone, now your text messages & emails, contacts, photos, passwords, etc. can be accessed by the other party.

In fact, the access is given to such an extent that even your device mic or camera can also be operated by the one who’s is spying on you very conveniently. The Pegasus Spyware can even access the end-to-end encrypted messages or files as it can now steal them before the encryption or after the decryption.

The intention behind the development of this ‘Pegasus Spyware’ is to help the government bodies by providing them the advanced technology to detect and prevent terrorism or criminal activities. Also, this spyware is quite expensive to use (as per the reports, it charges government bodies around USD 650,000 to spy on 10 iPhones or android smartphones with some additional charges like installation fee, annual maintenance, etc.) — hence, practically it won’t be feasible for the govt. agencies to use this tool without any solid or justified reason. So, you might consider yourself safe from this Pegasus Spyware due to these particular reasons.

In fact, Apple has also issued a statement over this Pegasus Spyware matter — “Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals” that is somehow true as well and again depicts that normal users do not need to worry much about it.

But, what if in the future there comes spyware that is as strong (or even more than that) as this Pegasus Spyware and being quite affordable as well — then don’t you think it can be misused and impact normal people lives as well. Yes, that’s actually the point! Instead of just ignoring this Pegasus Spyware, we should be well-aware of this, understand its pros and cons to avoid such kinds of spyware or cyberattacks in the future.

For instance, we can consider the below-mentioned points to prevent ourselves from these Spywares likes Pegasus, etc.

  • One of the basic approaches is to keep the Operating System and other apps in the device updated.
  • Open only those links or messages on your device that are sent by recognized and trusted contacts.
  • You should avoid using public WiFi services such as at cafes, parks, etc.
  • Always have a backup of the important data stored in your device.

Also, do remember that following the above-mentioned approaches will not make you completely safe from spyware like Pegasus and others — but yes, the more you’ll follow such strategies and preventive measures, the more your risk to get attacked by these Spywares will get reduce!!

References:- GeeksForGeeks, News.

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