Private Israeli spyware used to target smartphones of politicians, journalists worldwide

private Israeli firm

Politicians, Activists, and journalists worldwide have been spied on using smartphone malware developed by a private Israeli firm.

The news of using the software, called Pegasus by Israel’s NSO Group, was reported by the Guardian, Washington Post, Le Monde, and many other news outlets who collaborated on an inquiry into a data leak. 

Multiple news outlets have reported that the leaked database comprises a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers of persons of interest by many government clients of NSO since 2016.

A Paris-based non-profit organization named Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International had initially obtained the list and later shared it with news outlets.

It was also reported that nearly 1,000 individuals from 50 countries were potential targets of NSO clients. They included 189 journalists, 85 human rights activists, at least 65 business administrators, and more than 600 politicians and government executives, including Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Cabinet Ministers of various countries.

Pegasus Software

Pegasus is an highly invasive tool developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group- the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire outfit. The company’s malware is used to spy on people through their mobile phones.

It operates by sending an exploit link to the target user, which, if clicked, downloads malware onto the device without the user’s knowledge or authorization.

Once the software is installed, the hacker has full access to the target’s phone. It includes private data, including passwords, contact lists, text messages, live voice calls, and calendar events.

It even can switch on the target’s phone camera and microphone.

As per reports, the malware can even be installed without the target clicking the “exploit link.”

However, the Israeli company denied the allegations, calling the report by Forbidden Stories “full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories.”

The firm even threatened to file a defamation lawsuit.

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