WhatsApp claims about Pegasus(Spyware program)
Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, said that “Tools that enable surveillance into our private lives are being abused and the proliferation of this technology into the hands of irresponsible companies and governments puts us all at risk.” These words were aimed at the NSO group, and thanks to the recent events the whole world learned about it.
NSO Group is one of many digital spy outfits that provide technology to track everything a target does on a smartphone. Its spyware allows governments to track the location, communications, contacts and web activities of targets. And such access may be easily abused. Therefore, all applications that you register with your phone number, e-mail address or any personal information may put you in serious danger.
Pegasus application is a spyware program that can be installed remotely wirelessly, does not require any action from the target to install and leaves no trace on the device, and if this application has entered your device in some way, you will not notice it.
Since NSO Group was founded in 2011, its spy technology, called Pegasus, has become the preferred mobile spy tool of many governments. It is also claimed that Pegasus can handle encryption to provide ”unlimited access e to everything on a target mobile device. This means that all your data on your phone is now in the hands of others and can be used on all kinds of bad platforms without your knowledge and approval.
WhatsApp’s case vs Israeli spyware firm NSO
According to WhatsApp, NSO “reverse-engineered the WhatsApp app and developed a program to enable them to emulate legitimate WhatsApp network traffic in order to transmit malicious code — undetected — to Target Devices over WhatsApp servers”. “To avoid the technical restrictions built into WhatsApp Signaling Servers,” the lawsuit claimed, “Defendants formatted call initiation messages containing malicious code to appear like a legitimate call and concealed the code within call settings. Once Defendants’ calls were delivered to the Target Device, they injected the malicious code into the memory of the Target Device — even when the Target User did not answer the call.”
Most spyware programs cannot be installed on the user's phone if the user does not answer the call, but some applications developed in recent years have succeeded in doing so. Therefore, the biggest measure against these software is of course that no one can reach your phone number and users should not give their phone numbers, especially when registering for social media applications.
Although Whatsapp says that at every turn, users' conversations and personal information are absolutely safe, it has filed a complaint in a court accusing spyware company NSO Group and its parent company Q Cyber Technologies of targeting at least 1,400 users across the world. So, here's WhatsApp’s security vulnerabilities have emerged and Whatsapp itself also accepted this.
The WhatsApp case introduced some information about how Pegasus spyware was used on target devices. The lawsuit claims the “NSO set up various computer infrastructure, including WhatsApp accounts and remote servers” and then “used WhatsApp accounts to initiate calls through servers that were designed to secretly inject malicious code onto Target Devices”.
How Pegasus works?
To spy on a target, operators use some vectors to penetrate and indwell security properties in operating systems and install Pegasus without the user’s knowledge or permission. Once installed, Pegasus can start contacting the operator’s command and control (C&C) servers to receive and execute commands as well as send back critical information, including passwords and text messages. It can also help the operator turn on the camera or microphone of the device and even track location in real-time. Pegasus can infiltrate both iOS and Android devices.