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Pegasus Spyware – What is Zero-Click Attack, How Pegasus Infects Phone

Pegasus Spyware has made the global headlines in 2021. It has the ability to track your personal data without your consent and knowledge. As some one has said, these days wars are won not by guns and ammunitions but by information. So going with that, we can say that this is the deadliest weapon in use and who knows even you or me may become a target. This post will discuss what is Pegasus Spyware, Zero-Click attack, What can Pegasus do, How does it infect my phone and How to Protect your phone from it.

What is Pegasus Spyware

Pegasus Spyware can be called as a hacking software. It is a specially designed Spyware that enables the remote surveillance of smartphones.

Pegasus Spyware

Fig. 1 – Introduction to Pegasus Software

This Spyware is developed by NSO Group Technologies which is an Israeli firm. The company claims that this Spyware is sold to government intelligence agencies for the purpose of preventing malicious activities.

Pegasus Spyware can gain access to your smartphone without your knowledge and capture personal and sensitive information and transfers this data to spying users. It has successfully attacked many mobiles through Zero-Click attacks. It can even be inserted using a missed call. It is specially designed to bypass the security of a device.

NSO Group (1)

Fig. 2 – NSO Group Technologies, Israeli Firm

What is Zero-Click Attack

Many Spyware attacks involves clicking on a link received through SMS, email or sometimes the Spyware is attached to the applications or software you download from the Internet. On the other hand, Zero-Click Attack refers to Spyware attack like Pegasus, which does not require any action from the phone’s user. Hence, it is considered as the most dangerous, powerful Spyware that acquires “root-level” privileges on your phone.

Zero-Click attacks or remote attacks target apps that provide messaging or voice calling because these services are designed for parsing information and to receive data from untrusted sources.

When was Pegasus Spyware Discovered

It was first discovered on iOS device in the year 2016 and later it was also found on Android devices. It is believed that the victim clicked on link received in SMS. However, from the last decade, Pegasus Spyware can have access to your device without having to click on any link.

Pegasus was first found on IOS (1)

Fig. 3 – Spyware Detected on iOS

What can Pegasus Spyware do

Once the this Spyware is on your device,

  • It can read your messages, mail, listen to calls, capture screenshots, extract browser history details.
  • It can harvest information from text messages, address book, call history, calendar etc
  • It can easily capture your personal and confidential information.
  • It can turn on GPS to know your whereabouts.
  • It turns ‘ON’ your camera and your phone can act as a real-time surveillance device for Spying users or hackers.

What can Pegasus Do (1)

Fig. 4 – What Can Pegasus Do

Who can Pegasus Target

Pegasus can target anyone and can be intimidating for average users like me specially when it is talk of the town. This Spyware is quite expensive and complex spyware designed to spy on individuals of particular interest like Government Bureaucrats, political leaders, celebrities etc.

How does Pegasus Spyware Infect my Phone

Pegasus looks out for any vulnerability that could be exploited from the apps on the user’s phone. Based on the loopholes of a particular app, a special message is created like hidden text message or an image file to inject the code on the user’s device. Once the phone is compromised, the spyware destructs itself and becomes untraceable.

How it infects my phone (1)

Fig. 5 – Mobile Application Vulnerabilities

How to Protect my Phone from Pegasus

To protect your device from zero-click spyware attack, you could follow simple measures:

  • Avoid clicking on links that you receive in your text messages or through email.
  • Always download trusted apps.
  • Download apps from official app store like Google Play Store or Apples App Store.
  • Avoid giving permissions for microphone, camera, and location access to every app you download.

Conclusion

It is very important to keep our devices updated with the latest security patches and exercising vigilance with the security of our mobile devices. Spywares are not rare now a days and they will further increase only. Soon, the time will come when the difference between private and public data will fade and we will be vulnerable to cyber attacks. It is the high time we have to decide that organizations as powerful as governments has the right to check our personal data or not. This discussion is a bit tricky and complex, and so we leave it on you to decide what is best for you.

This Article is also Available in Video Format. Check the Video Below

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Laxmi Ashrit
Laxmi is a B.E (Electronics & Communication) and has work experience in RelQ Software as Test Engineer and HP as Technical support executive. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.
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