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India’s Pegasus infection

India first came to know of Pegasus when WhatsApp alleged in a Californian court in San Francisco,USA that the Israeli Group had targeted some 1400 plus users with Pegasus. This happened in May 2019. 

Before this a human rights activist in the UAE was targeted with an SMS link on his iPhone6. The Pegasus tool at that time exploited a software chink in Apple’s IoS. A click and you could become the next victim of Pegasus.

While WhatsApp declined to reveal the identities and “exact number” of those targeted for surveillance in India, it did confirm that WhatsApp had contacted each one of those targeted and had informed them. The Indian Express was the first newspaper in India to report on this.

The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, Canada helped WhatsApp with the investigation into the cyber-attack.

Pegasus is the flagship spyware of Israel-based NSO Group. It is believed to be known by other names as well, like Q Suite and Trident. Pegasus reportedly has the ability to infiltrate both Android and iOS devices and it uses a number of ways to hack into a target’s mobile devices, including using zero-day exploits.

The Citizen Lab has categorically said that Pegasus could have been used in the past also on Symbian phones. Their earlier versions would not have been as updated as there are now but the Research Laboratory has reportedly said that it could have been possible that people could have been targeted on their Blackberries also by Pegasus in India before 2016.

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with over 40 crore people using it. WhatsApp was used to spy on journalists, political dissidents, industrialists, supreme court judges and human rights activists in India.

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