Can you imagine if a single text could access all your information? Recently, Pegasus Spyware has featured in the global news for having the ability to hack into people’s smartphones in unbelievable ways without detection. This spyware is a product of an Israeli tech company, NSO Group, exclusively sold to different governments worldwide as a counterterrorism tool. However, recent reports have found regular civilians targeted, such as human rights activists, reporters, lawyers, and politicians.
Through this highly advanced spyware, people can access your phone and phish all of your data, be it messages, personal photos, audio and video recordings, and more. This also includes passwords, emails, social media, browser history and back-up data. But, that’s not all. The advanced spyware can also record your calls and screen, and monitor your GPS and your location, basically acting as a surveillance bug. Reportedly, they can even activate your phone’s camera and mic without you knowing and record what you’re doing. All these they can do after gaining access through one single text.
Earlier versions of Pegasus were installed on smartphones, usually through vulnerabilities in popular apps, such as WhatsApp. They also practised spear phishing, meaning they trick a target into clicking a link or opening a document that secretly installs the software by redirecting the user to compromised links that then inject the Pegasus spyware.
In 2019, Pegasus began using missed calls on WhatsApp to infiltrate a device. They can even delete the missed call record to be completely undetected. They can also simply send a text message to a user’s phone with no notifications. This tells us that the spyware has evolved into something that can invade your device without any notice and without you doing anything. This trick is called “zero-click exploit”. All they need is a vulnerable app or operating system installed on your device, and they can hack it. Once Pegasus is installed, it can theoretically collect any data from your smart device and deliver it to the attacker.
Despite Apple’s high efforts on boosting its security, Amnesty International’s investigation found the brand’s devices could be successfully infiltrated. Their list includes the iPhone 11 belonging to Claude Mangin, the wife of a jailed political activist in Morocco. As reported, the hacking through text made no sound and presented no warning of any kind other than being an iMessage from a stranger. Little did she know, it downloaded malware without Apple’s security system noticing.
Besides that, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab had found Pegasus infections on an iPhone 12 Pro Max and two iPhone SE2s. These Apple devices are even running 14.0 or more recent versions of the iOS operating system, first released last year.
While most of the circulating reports focus on iPhones, Pegasus can infect Android phones too. However, it isn’t as effective as their rooting technique isn’t fully reliable. Rooting is the process of enabling smart device users to run the Android mobile operating system to gain privileged control known as Root Access. Nevertheless, the spyware can infect both Apple and Android devices, as stated by an NSO Group information document.
Now, you may be thinking, “has Pegasus infected my phone?”. If you are concerned about Pegasus and other spyware hacking your phone, NSI offers a spyware and interception detection service. We have experts, such as spyware and malware forensic specialists, that can detect if your device is infected or not.
Utilising the most advanced law enforcement-grade equipment, our team can conduct a digital forensic spyware and interception analysis to detect listening device bugs and other malware on your device.
Our process starts with analysing your device’s memory bit-for-bit, as well as the device’s behaviour and its contents. To detect Pegasus, our experts analyse the databases that contain the vulnerabilities, and analyse any redirects and malicious processes that are launched if the device is infected. Once we have identified the threat, we can provide information about it. This includes where your data is going, what type of data has been accessed, if data can be recovered, and more.
Are you concerned about whether Pegasus or other spyware has been phishing your data? NSI Global Counter Intelligence can give you back your peace of mind through our spyware detection service. Contact NSI now for more information.