Pegasus is considered to be the most powerful spyware ever made. That means it’s a software that gets put on your phone to spy on you. This week, it made headlines for potentially being abused by governments world-wide to spy on civilians.
How does it get on a phone? Silently.
In 2016, reports say Pegasus was mostly put on phones through phishing; sending a message that convinced a user to click a link that allowed to software to load. Often you would not know if this had occurred.
Now, reports say Pegasus is able to get onto phones directly through their operating system or existing apps without the user doing anything.
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Who puts it there? Governments. The Isreali company that makes Pegasus licenses it to governments around the world to track terrorists and criminals. But, it begs the question: who gets to define "terrorist"?
Ethical concerns about Pegasus led a non-profit in France to partner with more than a dozen media organizations world-wide, including the Washington Post, to sniff out any corrupt use of Pegasus.
Working with Amnesty International, this week the group reported that Pegasus appears to have been used to target hundreds of journalists, activists, and business leaders who many feel do not fit the profile of a terrorist.
The maker of Pegasus claims they are investigating, and will cut contracts with any group misusing the tool.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because Pegasus is the same tool said to have been used by the Saudi Arabian government to spy on journalist Jamal Khashoggi prior to being accused of having him murdered and dismembered.
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What can you do to keep Pegasus off your phone? Sadly, experts appear to agree: not much. Pegasus is difficult to spot or delete. Many note that the best way to avoid being tracked through your phone is to reduce, or stop, using it.
Many countries are denying the claims about having abused Pegasus. Others are calling for their own investigations.