In this ominous digital spying landscape, we’ve become accustomed to not clicking on suspicious links and doing our best to avoid falling victim to cybercriminals through encryption, password updates, virtual private networks (VPNs), and antivirus software.
Over the summer, spyware known as Pegasus made global news when it infected thousands of phones internationally. The targets included journalists, activists and politicians. Consequently, thousands of phone numbers were leaked.
What’s tricky and different about Pegasus is that it infects phones with zero-click spyware, or “zero-click remote exploit,” meaning you don’t have to click on a link to be vulnerable or exposed to a virus. Both androids and iOS were previously vulnerable to the Pegasus software.
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What Is Pegasus?
- Pegasus is spyware that can be established remotely
- Covertly takes remote control over the phone
- Gathers personal information and GPS coordinates
- Infects phones, leaving no trace
The Company Behind Pegasus Software
An Israel-based technology company by the name of NSO Group developed Pegasus Spyware. The technology’s original purpose was to detect global threats. Concerns were raised by civil rights groups in June this year due to NSO’s software misuse. NSO Group has made claims to patrolling government agencies who abuse the software.
- Israeli technology company
- Claims to sell only to countries with a good record of human rights treatment
- Develops spyware to help track terrorists and global threats
What Is the Pegasus Project Investigation?
The Pegasus Project investigation was launched by a group of journalists and media outlets in an epic collaboration to find the number of phones and targets infected by Pegasus software.
Pegasus spyware was operated in a number of different countries including Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Rwanda, to name a few.
Who Employs Pegasus Software?
- Law enforcement
- Intelligence agencies
- There is minimal regulation in digital surveillance.
- Some government agencies have used digital surveillance to siphon data.
Spyware is largely unregulated. Government agencies have been trying to make sense of boundaries to set with industries specializing in data collection and digital surveillance. In August, the United Nations requested that all countries cease the use of spyware until clearer rules and regulations were defined.
The Aftermath of Pegasus Scandal
Apple acted fast in sealing a weak spot that allowed Pegasus spyware to control Apple users’ phones and iPads. NSO suspended some countries from using Pegasus Spyware, but did not provide information on which countries. The Israeli government is inspecting NSO’s ethical practices of Pegasus Spyware.
- Apple filled the gap that allowed Pegasus Spyware to access phones.
- Human rights activists are imploring countries to introduce more regulations.
- The NSO group suspended use of Pegasus from countries suspected of abuse.
Unless you are a journalist, activist or politician, the likelihood of being targeted with Pegasus spyware is low since this is currently the leading targeted group.
If you believe your phone is infected, turn off your phone and remove your SIM card.
How To Reduce the Digital Footprint You Leave Behind
The good news is that there are ways to curtail the traces you leave on the internet and on your phone. The bad news is that you and everyone else who uses Facebook and big search engines like Google have had personal data collected. The data is sold to companies for myriad reasons, usually with a vested interest.
Every time you visit a website, cookies are stored on your computer. An HTTP cookie is a piece of text. The purpose of a cookie is to analyze how you navigate and use the website to help developers and advertisers learn how to improve the layout.
Here are some ways to safeguard your privacy:
- Update software on all devices for security enhancements.
- Use browser extensions to prevent ads from collecting data.
- Use a password manager or update password regularly.
- Use Identity Watch to monitor and protect personal information.
How Public Record Companies Can Help You Detect Hackers or Unknown Callers
Cyber security departments and public record companies are learning how to protect personal data and devices every time a scandal similar to Pegasus occurs.
The following functions provided by PeopleFinders have the potential to distribute the power more evenly in terms of protecting your devices and learning more about unknown callers and suspicious emails:
To learn more about all the features Identity Watch has to offer, watch the video to learn how to secure your personal data.