Pegasus, the spyware that threatens politicians and journalists around the world

For a long time we have known news about the effects of Pegasus, a spyware developed for the exclusive use of government entities.

As new victims of this spyware became known this week, among which is the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez.

Spyware Pegasus turns on alerts around the world

Taking advantage of a vulnerability discovered in WhatsApp in 2019, the Israel-based company NSO Group developed spyware that is marketed only to government customers. This is the famous today Pegasuswhich can attack iOS and Android devices indistinctly, carrying out a deep search of the data contained.

With the help of this spyware, it is possible to access messaging application conversations, emails, photos, phone calls, real-time location, contact list and browser history, among other relevant personal data.

Amnesty International, a world organization for human rights, has documented that this tool has been used in recent years to persecute activists and journalists around the world.

However, what has put this software in the eye of the hurricane this week is the confirmed presence of this spyware on the phones of the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, and his defense minister, Margarita Robles. This, in the midst of a tense context in which this same software would have been used by Spanish intelligence services to spy on Catalan independence fighters.

This same week, within the framework of World Press Freedom Day, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, Indian que Pegasus “it is being used in at least 45 countries, often with total secrecy and outside any legal framework”emphasizing that this software “It is an affront to privacy and an obstruction to freedom of expression”.

In her speech, Bachelet asked countries to regulate the use of these tools. “I urge all States that acquire this type of surveillance technology to do so in compliance with human rights standards, and to ask themselves if they are legal, necessary and proportional tools in the face of their risks”he pointed.

The basic security recommendations when you suspect that you are a victim of this spyware are to restore the factory settings of the allegedly infected device, restore the passwords stored in it, eliminate unknown devices linked to messaging apps and update of the operating system to its latest version, due to the security patches contained.

For more experienced users, it is possible to perform a scan on a suspected infected device using Mobile Verification Toolkit, a toolkit offered by Amnesty International. MVT runs only through a command line and has versions for Linux and macOS. To use this application on Windows, you need to have the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

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I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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