In a shocking revelation, a spyware attack has been found to target human rights activists and journalists across the world. Pegasus spyware, as it has been called, was discovered through a global collaborative investigation. The investigation included The Guardian, Le Monde, Washington Post, and 14 other media powerhouses.
Pegasus Spyware: The Origin
This spyware is believed to have been developed by Israeli firm NSO. It infects the iOS and Android devices and spies on the victim by unauthorized transfer of data to a master server. The developer firm NSO has been claiming that the spyware was sold only to governments for tracking and catching terrorists and stopping criminal activities.
It is also believed that the Pegasus spyware is capable of secretly activating the microphones and cameras of the victim’s device. The leak, through which the revelation was made, contains more than 50,000 phone numbers. It is believed that these phone numbers belong to persons of interest for NSO clients since 2016.
The reporting consortium, the Pegasus Project, was shared a list of leaked phone numbers by Forbidden Stories, a French nonprofit organization, and Amnesty International.
This Spyware Attack has Big Names as Victims
The list of names revealed by the Pegasus Project includes business leaders, human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and government officials. It is quite shocking that the list also includes many Arab royal family members too. Here’s a very interesting Twitter thread to explain the Pegasus spyware and everything related to it:
BREAKING: Introducing the Pegasus Project: a collaborative investigation involving more than 80 journalists on 4 continents showing how powerful spyware licensed only to governments targeted journalists, activists and more. (1/n) https://t.co/6VtQffN3YC— Niha Masih (@NihaMasih) July 18, 2021
According to a report by the Indian Express, the Pegasus spyware attack has affected around 300 people including two ministers in the ruling government, three leaders from the opposition, one constitutional authority, many journalists, and business leaders.
This doesn’t end here. According to a report by The Guardian, the revealed list contains details of various reporters, editors, and executives from major media outlets like CNN, Financial Times, New York Times, and Reuters.
What’s more shocking is that the phone number of a freelance Mexican journalist, Cecilio Pineda Birto, was found on the revealed list. Believed to be of interest to a Mexican client, he was murdered after getting located at a carwash by his assassins. His phone was never found so forensic analysis couldn’t be conducted on his phone.
All of this information which is now out in the public domain tells us how cyber vulnerabilities can lead to gory fortunes.
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