A few days ago, it came into notice that the malicious utility named Pegasus, which is created by the Israeli company NSO Group for law enforcement agencies and intelligence department is extensively used to spy on residents of different countries privately.
According to information security experts, more than 50 thousand devices have been infected around the world. However, this number does not seem high. Still, Pegasus is dangerous – it permits you to take complete control of the smartphone, secret documents, wiretap phone chats, view photos and videos.
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Even well-known antiviruses cannot detect this Pegasus because this malware exploits zero-day vulnerabilities unspecified to the developers of operating systems and antivirus applications.
The human rights organization Amnesty International has designed a utility that allows users to identify this malware. It is called MVT (Mobile Verification Toolkit), and its source code is available on GitHub.
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The MVT utility is compatible with both Android and iOS, but there are no instant solutions for the quick installation of this application. Instead, they need to be systematized for a specific device, which can be done only on a computer with Linux or macOS.
This application will save a backup copy of the data from the smartphone on the computer, scan all data, look over if the device is infected with the Pegasus spyware, and inform the user if information from their device could be compromised and transferred to third parties.
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Notably, this utility scans “data transfer logs” – it is that place where that infection indicators can most likely be found (includes information about sending calls history, SMS, IM messages, and other things to a remote server). However, on iOS, these logs are stored longer than on Android, so it becomes easier to detect the Pegasus spyware on the iPhone. Let’s talk about the complexity of using the Mobile Verification Toolkit. This utility is only be recommended for tech-savvy users or those who suspect Pegasus is tracking them.
According to the Information security experts, this spyware is used for targeted surveillance. It doesn’t infect random devices but only smartphones that belong to those specific people whose activities are of interest to those who control this software. Each Pegasus license costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, so this is the reason surveillance is mainly carried out on those with valuable information (for instance, politicians, business leaders, or journalists of significant publications).
However, recently the Pegasus case has become very popular in the news; hundreds of other spy apps are still running silently and spying on their victims. So what we can do is to be extra careful, practice good digital hygiene, and stay safe in today’s time.
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