The new platform maps Pegasus spread



Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International and Citizen Lab recently launched a online database on spyware Pegasus. 

What is the need:

It is done to document attacks against human rights defenders.

Views from the amnesty:

  • The interactive platform (Digital Violence: How the NSO Group Enables State Terror) showed:  
  • The connections between ‘digital violence’ of Pegasus spyware and therefore the real-world harms faced by lawyers, activists, and other civil society figures.
  • The NSO Group, which makes the spyware, was a significant player within the shadowy surveillance company.  
  • Pegasus had been utilized in a number of the most insidious digital attacks on human rights activists within the world.
  • The spyware enabled an attacker to urge complete access to a person’s phone

The excerpts from the investigations:

  • The extent to which the digital domain we inhabit has become the new frontier of human rights violations.
  • It has become a site of state surveillance and intimidation that permits physical violations in real space.
  • In 2020, Amnesty and Citizen Lab revealed that the spyware was used on nine human rights defenders who were accused in the Bhima Koregoan case.

Pegasus spyware:

  • Every  spyware does what the name suggests — they spy on people through their phones.  
  • Pegasus works by sending an exploit link, and if the target user clicks on the link, the malware or the code that permits the surveillance is installed on the user’s phone.  
  • Once Pegasus is installed, the attacker has complete access to the target user’s phone.
  • The Pegasus delivers “a chain of zero-day exploits to penetrate security measures on the phone and installs Pegasus without the user’s knowledge or permission”.
  • A “zero-day exploit” may be a completely unknown vulnerability, about which even the software manufacturer isn't aware, and there's , thus, no patch or fix available for it

Origin of Pegasus

  • The first reports on Pegasus’s spyware operations emerged in 2016, when Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights activist in the UAE, was targeted with an SMS link on his iPhone 6.
  • The Pegasus tool at that time exploited a software link in Apple’s iOS to take over the device. Apple responded by pushing out an update to “patch” or fix the issue.




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