After facing criticisms world wide, the Israeli government reportedly has interfered and pressured NSO Group, the makers of Pegasus spyware, to block some of its clients from using it. NSO Group only sells its Pegasus spyware to “authorised government only”. The Washington Post reported that the company has already blocked five governments from the spyware while another report by NPR claims that more ‘clients’ have been suspended as NSO Group is investigating abuse of Pegasus.
“There is an investigation into some clients. Some of those clients have been temporarily suspended,” told a source in the company to NPR. israeli government officials recently visited NSO Group’s office in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, “in order to assess the allegations raised in regards to the company,” as per the defence ministry.
The Pegasus spyware is made to help government tackle crime, terrorism, sex and drig rackets. However, an explosive report by The Washington Post, Amnesty International and multiple other global media partners revealed how governments used Pegasus to spy on journalists, human rights activists, political opponents and business executives.
One of the reasons as to why Pegasus is so potent is because the company buys zero-day vulnerabilities before they are reported to tech companies like Apple, Google and others. The Pegasus spyware works on devices running Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian and even Tizen.
With the Pegasus tool, the attacker can get SMS records, contact details, call history, calendar records, emails, instant messaging and browsing history. According to the product brochure by NSO Group, Pegasus can snoop WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and BlackBerry messenger. Pegasus can secretly click photos, record calls, record surrounding audio and even take screenshots without alerting the user. Once the spying mission is over, the Pegasus operator can hit the kill switch remotely to self-delete the Pegasus agent on the victim’s phone.