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Pegasus spyware is back: What is it? How to protect your Android, iOS smartphone

Pegasus spyware has been recently alleged to have snooped into the phones of some prominent personalities including senior journalists and politicians. Here's what you need to know.

India TV Tech Desk India TV Tech Desk
New Delhi Published on: July 19, 2021 13:23 IST
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Image Source : PIXABAY

Pegasus has software allegedly attacked many users in India.

Pegasus spyware is in the spotlight again. The spyware has been recently alleged to have snooped into the phones of some prominent personalities including senior journalists and politicians. This spyware is developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group and here's everything you need to know about it.

What is Pegasus?

Pegasus is a spyware software that can be installed on mobile phones and other devices running some versions of iOS or Android. Initially, the malware software was installed on smartphones only via a malicious link. Once clicked on the link, the software creates a backdoor for the attacker, essentially giving them complete access to the victim’s smartphone. This means they can read text messages, track calls, collect passwords, trace the phone’s location, as well as gather information from apps including iMessage, Gmail, Viber, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Skype.

In the latest version, the software is evolved enough to not require any action by the victim. Many reports claim that even a WhatsApp call is sufficient for the phone to get infected; the user doesn't even need to answer the call. 

The Pegasus spyware, developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group, claims that the spyware provides "authorized governments with technology that helps them combat terror and crime." They also claim that they have published sections of contracts requiring customers only to use its products for criminal and national security investigations. 

The spyware was first spotted back in 2016 and it has now emerged again. It is one of the most powerful spyware software as it has even managed to break into Apple’s iOS, which is touted to be one of the safest mobile operating systems. 

Since 2016, Pegasus spyware has evolved quite a lot. It has now become a zero-click attack, which means the victim is not even required to perform any action to install the spyware. This basically makes the spyware impossible to detect or stop.

How does Pegasus Spyware infect your phone?

Pegasus software can be installed on both Android and iOS. On Apple iPhones, the spyware took advantage of a vulnerability in the mail app. However, it was patched via an update in April 2020. As of now, the software is using some other vulnerability to get into the iOS devices. 

As for Android smartphones, the spyware is targeting a vulnerability in the graphics library of phones running version 4.4.4 and above. Many attackers have even exploited vulnerabilities in the instant messaging app, Whatsapp.

Should you be worried?

As of now, the Pegasus software is only being used to track government officials or journalists. If your work is in any of the relevant fields, you should be alert. 

How to protect your smartphone from Pegasus software?

As Pegasus has now become a zero-click spyware, it is really difficult to stay protected. However, you can follow some rules to make sure none of your personal data is leaked. Firstly, you should ensure that your smartphone is up to date. You should also avoid sideloading third-party apps or installing apps by lesser-known developers. Lastly, you should avoid doing any confidential work on your smartphone at least until this spyware gets a complete fix.

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