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The mighty Pegasus

The mighty Pegasus

NSO Group Technologies (NSO standing for Niv, Shalev and Omri, the names of the company’s founders) is an Israeli technology firm primarily known for its proprietary spyware Pegasus, which is capable of remote Zero click surveillance of smartphones. It was founded in 2010 by Niv Karmi, Omri Lavie, and Shalev Hulio. In order to understand the complexities surrounding the spyware we felt it’s important to clear few scenarios before moving to the gist.

Dark web:

The dark web is the World Wide Web content that exists on darknets: overlay networks that use the interne but require specific software, configurations, or authorization to access. Through the dark web, private computer networks can communicate and conduct business anonymously without divulging identifying information, such as a user’s location. The dark web forms a small part of the deep web, the part of the Web not indexed by web search engines, although sometimes the term deep web is mistakenly used to refer specifically to the dark web.


 Spyware is software with malicious behavior that aims to gather information about a person or organization and send it to another entity in a way that harms the user.

Zero-click attack:

In computer security, a zero-click attack is an exploit that requires no user interaction to operate – that is to say, no key-presses or mouse clicks.

                Pegasus is the name of perhaps the most powerful piece of spyware ever developed. Once it has wormed its way into your phone, without you noticing, it can turn it into a 24 hours surveillance device. It can copy messages you send or receive, harvest your photos and record your calls. It might secretly film you through phone’s camera, or activate the microphone to record your conversations. It can potentially pinpoints where you are, where you’ve been, and who you’ve met.

Pegasus is the hacking software-or spyware- that is developed, marketed and licensed to governments around the world by the Israeli company NSO Group. It has the capability to infect billions of phones running either IOS or Android operating systems.

More recently, Pegasus is reported to have exploited weaknesses in Apple’s iMessage software. That would potentially give it access to the one billion Apple iPhones currently in use — all without the owners needing to even click a button.

The pegasus by Guardian

In 2019 WhatsApp revealed that NSO’s software has been used to send malware to more than 1,400 phones by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability. Simply by placing a WhatsApp call to a target device, malicious Pegasus code could be installed on the phone, even if the target never answered the call.

One of the most significant challenges that Pegasus presents to journalists and human rights defenders is the fact that that the software exploits undiscovered vulnerabilities, meaning event the most security conscious mobiles phones user cannot prevent an attack.

This is a question that gets asked to me pretty much every time we do forensic with somebody: “What can I do to stop this happening again?” said Guarnieri. “The real honest answer is nothing”.


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