Pegasus: what it is and how to defend against spyware

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Pegasus: The source of much controversy over the past few years, Pegasus software has recently returned to the news. Developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, the program is used by governments to fight criminals, but it has also become a potent weapon of political espionage.

According to a major report released on Sunday (18), the program has been misused by authoritarian governments since 2016. The tool was reportedly used to spy on about 50,000 phones, including devices from journalists, activists and other figures of interest, including presidents.

In a post on its website, the NSO Group defended itself against the allegations and said the information was incorrect and “far from reality”. According to the company, an extensive background check is carried out before releasing the use of spy software, which is officially used for security purposes, such as dismantling drug schemes and human trafficking.

“Our verification process goes beyond legal and regulatory requirements to ensure legal use of our technology as designed,” says the company’s website. TecMundo contacted the NSO seeking further clarification and we are waiting for an answer.

How does Pegasus work?

Pegasus is nothing new and has been causing controversy since 2016, when the first reports of using the software for spying began to emerge. According to the NSO, the program is used by 60 agencies globally — a list with the names of the institutions has not been released.

Classified as spyware, the solution is designed to silently infiltrate a device and allow data collection without causing a fuss. Even with the official purpose focused on security, Pegasus’s “deviation of function” cases are commonplace. The program has been involved in scandals in over 40 countries, including Brazil.