A report published by many prominent news websites, including the Guardian and the Washington Post, suggested that several journalists including 40 Indian news personalities were made the target of an attempted hack. The reports say that over 10 governments, including India’s, were involved in surveillance of people using Pegasus spyware

Meanwhile, the Indian government has issued an official statement categorically denying the allegations saying “the commitment to free speech as a fundamental right is the cornerstone of India’s democratic system. We have always strived to attain an informed citizenry with an emphasis on a culture of open dialogue.

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This debate has once again brought the spyware Pegasus to the spotlight or one can say that Pegasus spyware never really went out of the news. It is a frequently used spyware by various governments to tap prominent personalities.

What is Pegasus spyware?

Pegasus is a spyware developed by the Tel Aviv, Israel-based cyber intelligence and security firm NSO Group. The spyware is believed to be in existence since 2016. It is identified by many other names like Q Suite and Trident.

It is considered one of the most powerful and sophisticated spyware to be around as it can infiltrate iOS, Apple’s mobile phone operating system, and Android devices.

As per NSO Group’s website, the company creates the technology to help government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime to save thousands of lives around the globe. Pegasus was meant to be used by governments on a per-license basis.

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NSO’s human rights policy includes “contractual obligations requiring NSO’s customers to limit the use of the company’s products to the prevention and investigation of serious crimes, including terrorism, and to ensure that the products will not be used to violate human rights”.  

The company, NSO, has been accused in the past of using Pegasus to snoop on people.

In 2019, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said that some 1400 of its users in over 20 countries including Indian journalists and activists, had been targeted by Pegasus in May that year.