WhatsApp which is owned by Facebook is the World’s most popular messaging app. It has more than 1.5 Billion users across the World, out of which 40 crore are in India. This makes WhatsApp India’s biggest market.
WhatsApp has made a very important confirmation. It has found out that a spyware called Pegasus was used by an Israel based Company called the NSO Group. The purpose was to spy on activists, journalists, lawyers, and even government officials.
WhatsApp even sued the NSO Group for the WhatsApp cyberattack which took place earlier this year. WhatsApp had also warned many Indian users who could be targets of illegal snooping by spyware. WhatsApp has not confirmed how many people have been affected or targeted in India. As Pegasus becomes the most googled word in India, let’s find out what the ruckus is all about.
See Also: How to keep your WhatsApp Safe?
Pegasus has been around a while and is not your ordinary spyware. It works by sending a link. If you click on this link, it gets installed on your laptop or mobile device.
After it gets installed it starts contacting control servers. This allows it to relay commands and collect data from the infected device. Pegasus can now steal your passwords, contacts and even text messages. It can also steal calendar info and voice calls made through messaging apps.
There’s worse to follow. Pegasus even allows hackers to gain access to the mobile phone’s camera, microphone and use the GPS to track live location. Pegasus targets vulnerabilities in the WhatsApp VoIP stack. This is used to make audio and video calls. A missed call on a WhatsApp number helps Pegasus gain access to laptops and mobile devices. This bypasses all WhatsApp high-end data encryption for chats. Sadly, WhatsApp overlooked the security of the calling feature.
Pegasus would easily send all your private data which includes passwords, contact lists, calendar events, text messages, and live voice calls from all popular mobile messaging apps.
Your phone camera and microphone would be used to capture all activity in the vicinity of your phone. The Pegasus spyware can easily access email, SMS, location tracking, network details, device settings, and browsing history data.
Pegasus can easily access password-protected devices. It consumes minimum battery, memory and data so that you don’t get suspicious. Even alert users can’t catch Pegasus.
There’s a self-destruct mechanism to safeguard against risk of exposure and any file can be retrieved for deeper analysis. Pegasus works on BlackBerry, Android, iOS (iPhone) and Symbian-based devices.
Many people believe that the time has come to quit WhatsApp and shift to Wire, Signal or Telegram. WhatsApp is very popular and an easy target for hackers and cyber criminals.
WhatsApp uses the Signal app protocol for its end-to-end encryption. This has been quite safe so far. WhatsApp has a serious advantage over Telegram. Every chat on WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted. In Telegram only secret chats are end-to-end encrypted.
Now, zero-day exploits (This is a cyber attack which takes place on the same day a weakness is discovered), can exist for any software or app anywhere in the World. Any Agency can exploit this and there isn’t much one can do.
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