The extent of the Pegasus spyware, from the controversial Israeli NSO Group, was suspected but unconfirmed. And although the company still does not disclose details about its clients, an investigation by media such as The Guardian, The Washington Post and organizations such as Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories has revealed what is really behind it.

We are talking about an investigation that has revealed that NSO Group has 50,000 potential targets in a list that includes journalists, politicians, activists and opponents of authoritarian political regimes. And this is no small matter. Everything points to the fact that the phone of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was hacked with Pegasus, that this software is related to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy, and that the attack on WhatsApp was perpetrated with it in 2019.

NSO Group is a company that offers its services mainly to governments. With Pegasus they offer access on Android and iOS handsets to call logs, microphone recordings, location tracking, images, message history, browsing history, etc.

As much as applications like WhatsApp and Signal work with encryption today, NSO Group analyzes in detail all the possible security holes in Android and iOS to overcome these technological shields. Amnesty International has seen a device with iOS 14.6 (the latest stable version of the system) hacked with a zero-click vulnerability via iMessage. In other words, relying on the latest iPhones, and updating them, a person can be at risk.

Map Pegasus spywareAmong the people on the massive list, researchers have identified 1,000 people from more than 50 countries, including politicians, journalists, business executives, NGO human rights activists. Forbidden Stories has detailed on the map above the countries they have found that hired NSO Group services, and in addition to authoritarian regimes and dictatorships, we find countries such as Spain, France and the United Kingdom, along with Hungary. These are the only European countries.

Jakub Vavra, mobile threat analyst at Avast, tells that “since 2016, we have tracked and blocked several attempts of Pegasus spyware to breach Android phones, most of them took place in 2019.”

“This spyware is able to remotely monitor through the microphone and camera, as well as take screenshots of the user and record their keystrokes,” he relates. “The minimal spread of the spyware does not make it any less dangerous, for every individual under surveillance the scope of privacy damage is certainly very high.”

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