Cyber-surveillance weapon Pegasus used for committing “Horrible human rights abuses”, revealed in an investigation.

July 19, 2021 | 2 minutes read

The investigation by the Guardian and 16 other organizations revealed the rampant use of NSO’s Pegasus, hacking spyware against Journalists, Politicians, and others. These are gross human rights violations and WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart demanded accountability from human rights defenders, tech companies, and governments.

Cathcart posted a long thread on Twitter urging the governments, tech companies, and human rights defenders to hold the entities abusing the Pegasus spyware accountable and ensure user security. 

“This is a wake-up call for security on the Internet,” he said. “The mobile is the primary computer for billions of people. Governments and companies must do everything they can to make it as secure as possible.”

Will Cathcart whatsapp chief

Human rights activists, journalists, and lawyers from all over the world have been targeting by the authoritarian governments using NSO’s Pegasus, hacking software that infiltrates user’s mobile phones sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group as revealed in an investigation into a massive data leak. 

The investigation by the Guardian and 16 other media organsations exposed the widespread and rampant abuse of NSO’s Pegasus, which the company claims to be only used against terrorists and criminals.

Pegasus as mentioned above infiltrates the privacy of the user’s mobile device read (Apple and Android) to enable tool operators to extract messages, pictures, and emails, record calls, and secretly activates the microphones and cameraphones.

The leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers that are believed to be of interest to the clients of NSO since 2016. 

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit media organisation, and Amnesty International initially had access to the leaked list of phone numbers and shared the list with media partners as part of the Pegasus project, a reporting consortium.

The presence of a phone number on the list doesn’t guarantee that the device was infected with Pegasus or an attempt to hack was made. However, the consortium believes that the data is indicative of the potential NSO’s government clients identified in advance for possible future surveillance attempts.