The case of the alleged hacking of phones of over 300 celebrities in India with the Pegasus software of Israeli company NSO has now caught on. The espionage scandal came to light a day before the start of the monsoon session of Parliament. It is being claimed that those whose phones were tapped include former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Union Ministers Ashwini Vaishnav and Prahlad Singh Patel, former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa and several journalists including election strategist Prashant Kishor.Also Read - Pegasus Snooping Row: Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Plea Next Week

According to The Wire, there are about 50,000 telephone numbers in the leaked global database. France’s non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International found this data first. According to the NSO Group, Pegasus has been sold only to government agencies to fight terrorism and crime, but in many countries, there have been allegations of its use to spy on people. Also Read - PM Modi, HM Amit Shah Have 'Hit Soul of India's Democracy by Using Pegasus': Rahul Gandhi

Pegasus Spyware – When it Started and When It Was Discovered

Pegasus was developed by Israeli cyber intelligence and security firm NSO Group. It is also known by names like Q Suite and Trident. This is the best spyware out there in the market and Apple’s mobile operating system iOS and Android devices can be breached. According to the NSO Group website, the company creates technologies that can “help government agencies”. So that thousands of lives can be saved from terrorism and crime around the world. Also Read - Breaking News Highlights: Gujarat Govt Reduces Night Curfew Timing by 1 Hour

After developing the Pegasus, the Israeli company NSO started selling it to the governments of various countries. The company’s earning is $ 40 million annually in 2013, have almost quadrupled to $ 155 million by 2015. This software is considered very expensive, so ordinary organizations and institutions cannot afford it.

Pegasus Spyware – Celebrities Whose Phone Hacked

The first instalment of this multi-level probe released by The Guardian on Sunday night claimed that the phones of 180 correspondents from around the world, including 40 Indian journalists, were hacked. These include three journalists from ‘Hindustan Times’ and ‘Mint’, Raula Khalaf, editor of ‘Financial Times’ and India Today, Network-18, The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times and Le Monte. The probe also claimed to have hacked the phones of a former Delhi University professor and eight activists arrested in the Elgar Parishad case between June 2018 and October 2020.

Pegasus Spyware – How it Can Attack Your Phone

Spyware like Pegasus perform ‘zero click’ attacks. Meaning it does not require any human to do anything. You don’t have to click anywhere or browse anything. This spyware is installed automatically. In other words, even if you know how to avoid phishing attacks or know which link to click and which not, it makes no sense. Most such attacks target software that receives data without determining whether it is coming from a trusted location or not, such as an email client.

Pegasus Spyware – How to Save Your Smartphone From Pegasus Attack

It is very difficult to detect such attacks. Almost impossible to stop them. If there is encrypted data then it is more difficult because it does not know which data packets are being sent or received. Users can keep all their operating systems and software updated so that at least those vulnerabilities that have been identified can be fixed. Downloading apps from anywhere other than Google Play or Apple’s App Store also invites danger. With a little more care, you can stop using apps altogether. Use the browser to access email and social media on the phone.