Privacy is need which is a double edged sword in the hands of the right
people it's a need so they can live in peace because they then have at least
the peace of my mind that even the minute part of their data is safe and no
person organization can look into their data in an unwanted manner , but in the
hands of the wrong people it can wreak havoc and by that I mean cyber terrorists
, terrorists and criminals this can go south very fast.
Almost every other software present on this planet now has an inbuilt encryption
system whether its whatsapp chat , telegram , signal , i-message or even google
rick text or message all have well founded encryption system which protects
normal and casual people so that their chats , pictures or any other media to be
read or used by any third party but using these same softwares criminals and
terrorists and cyber-terrorists function without coming on the radar of law
enforcement or intelligence authorities.
This whole issue gave rise to a new form of warfare and as well as corporation
who use different sort of softwares or websites to stop the misuse of privacy.
This new form of warfare is cyber warfare and spyware or spy software. There are
corporations which legally sell such software or hardware to do monitor people
for multiple noble reasons like investigating criminals and terrorists but we
all know that the world isn't all so black and white such kind of software or
hardware can probably be used for much more nefarious purposes like state
So today we will take a deep dive into the Pegasus spyware/malware which ever
way you would like to call it. So this problem doesn't start recently but
goes way back 2019. So today we will take a look at the different parties who
are involved with the Pegasus spyware.
So there are mainly two parties to this situation one is NSO group and amnesty
international and its security labs. The countries that were affected by Pegasus
spyware are Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco,
Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, UAE. NSO group is an organization that sells legalized
spyware to different countries law enforcement to investigate terrorism and
criminals. While amnesty international security labs is the group which
investigated such spyware which was allegedly installed on about 50000
journalists including the infamous jamal Khashoggi's wife, i.e the journalist
who was killed in Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
So starting with what's a spyware, software that enables a user to obtain
covert information about another's computer activities by transmitting data
covertly from their hard drive. Please do not confuse spyware to hidden cameras
and all they are a whole another shenanigan and do not pertain to this topic.
Pegasus spyware is a malware which can be installed and through which data can
routed very easily because it has certain permissions which allow to read very
sensitive data from our phones like sms and call logs, monitor our browsing
So how can one end up getting such a malware in their native
systems without their knowledge. And in that fact lies everything such malware
can be installed in such a sneaky snarky manner that you won't even realize it
and the problem is no device whether android, IOS , windows is safe from such
So, what is a malware, computer software such as a virus that the user does not
know about or want and is designed to damage how a computer or computer network
works. So, how can they get access to such sensitive information so easily and
the answer to that is they do it by gaining root access to the device indirectly
or kernel access if you are talking about a laptop.
Now what is root or kernel
access, we all know who use a laptop or desktop on a regular basis that a laptop
doesn't have one single user it has basically two one is the main user or the
end of the line user or customer and the other is admin. So here the admin is
the root user, a root user has access to not only the normal data the
normal/common user has access to but also to sensitive data.
Now the question
arises that why don't big companies make the end user the root user the answer
to that is the fact it is a very risky proposition and even one single tiny
mistake can render your device useless because the root user also has access to
backdoors which are legitimately are used by corporations to solve bugs etc but
if mishandled can be used by attackers to gain access to your device, obviously
that doesn't stop many people from rooting their phones or gaining admin
rights on their desktops. But what this malware does is forcefully gain such
access by different means these means are:
- Spear phishing email
- Public networks
- Physically getting hold of your device
Now talking about spear phishing emails or texts , this is a old but a tried and
tested method earlier used by fraudsters to defraud people of their money now
used to gain sensitive info because in todays generations information is the
biggest buck earner. The way it happens is they create a website with underlying
code to forcefully getting root access, they send a email or message to you
asking or requesting you to click on a link and as soon as you click on such
link it gets root access and once its done it can read sms , call logs ,
contacts , app data , browsing history etc.
Second method works if you ever log into a open public wifi network , such
networks are almost everywhere high end diners to normal cafes. So what goes
down is this you log into a public network and it asks for you to login by
providing an email or mobile number once you do so you are allowed to use such
network but what if the attacker creates a hotspot of his own , spoofs a similar
looking login page , in this case once you login by giving you credentials it
starts working to get root access and once root access is gained all of your
data can be skimmed , saved and transmitted as per the attackers will.
Last method is the good old method of getting hold of your device and directly
putting a code in it which is malicious in nature and gets root access but in
todays day and age that is rare.
This is the modus operandi of the Pegasus spyware I wont be entering into the
politics it has started in our nation but if you wish to learn more you can
check nso group and amnesty internationals in depth research.