Around 1,400 WhatsApp users in 20 countries including Indian journalists and activists were targeted by a sophisticated spyware called Pegasus, the Facebook-owned messaging service confirmed today. It alleged that Israeli company NSO used Pegasus spyware to snoop on people around the world. Earlier this week, WhatsApp contacted human rights lawyer Nihal Singh Rathod, activists Bela Bhatia, Degree Prasad Chauhan, Anand Teltumbd, journalist Sidhant Sibal among others to inform them that they had been targeted by Israeli spyware in May for two weeks. WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India accounts for about 400 million. The latest security hole has instilled fears about the security of the popular messaging service.
Know About Israeli Spyware Pegasus That Was Used To Target WhatsApp Users
1. Pegasus, the most sophisticated spyware available on the market, and can infiltrate iOS and Android devices. It is developed by Israeli cyber-security company NSO.
2. WhatsApp said that in this hacking case, the spyware exploited its video calling system and a vulnerability called "zero-click zero-day" to send malware to the mobile devices.
3. The NSO first created fake WhatsApp accounts and the spyware "Pegasus" got into the user's phone through a video call. When the phone rang, the attacker transmitted a malicious code and the spyware got auto-installed in the phone even if the user did not answer the call.
4. By taking over the phone's systems, the attacker got access to the user's WhatsApp messages and calls, regular voice calls, passwords, contact lists, calendar events, phone's microphone and camera.
5. Pegasus has been around for at least three years now. The sophisticated spyware was meant to be used by the governments on a per-license basis, but was being used for targeting people. Earlier in May, NSO had limited sales of Pegasus to state intelligence agencies and others.