We live in an age of data and convenience. Everywhere you look, there are marvels of technology to be found – on your desk, in your pocket, and on your wrist. Whether you're an Average Joe or the President, you can carry around a palm-sized piece of technology more powerful than the one that landed a man on the Moon. Browse the internet, play games, or discuss matters of international importance – your smartphone can do it all.
What's not to love?
Well, as it turns out, not everything is sunshine and roses. Recently, President Joe Biden warned of the increased threat of cyberattacks. And it seems you can't go a day without seeing a headline about Pegasus or similar spyware compromising one of the world's governments. The message is clear – the price of convenience is our privacy and digital security.
So, how can you protect yourself? In this article, we'll be discussing Pegasus, the most notorious spyware in recent memory, its dangers, and answering that question.
What Is Pegasus?
For the uninitiated, Pegasus is spyware – a type of software used to infiltrate a victim's device (in this case, a smartphone) and steal their data. It is also a commercial product developed and sold by the NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-arms company, allegedly to aid governments in counter-terrorism and law enforcement.
It's important to note that Pegasus is by no means the first of its kind. Software used for covert data collection has been around for decades. However, Pegasus stands on account of being used in several high-profile data heists recently and being legally purchasable at the same time.
How Does Pegasus Work?
Once installed, Pegasus can theoretically steal any data saved on the device and send it back to the attacker. This includes photos, videos, voice recordings, messages, call logs, location records, web searches, saved passwords, and more. The latest versions can even activate your microphone and camera without you knowing.
The system can be installed on a victim's device in multiple ways:
- Manually: The hacker physically steals the victim's device and installs the software by hand.
- Via an App Exploit: The hacker uses a hole in the security of a basic, everyday app to deliver the system onto the device.
- Through “Spear-fishing”: The hacker sends their victim a compromised link or document, which, when clicked, downloads and installs the spyware in the background.
- Via a “Zero-click” Exploit: The latest and most advanced versions of the spyware can be installed even by a message or call that does not produce any notification, leaving the victim completely oblivious.
Why Is This a Problem?
Earlier, we mentioned that Pegasus was created primarily for governments to fight crime. So, some might think that it's ultimately a good thing. However, the fact is that, as far as we know, that's not how it's being used right now. According to research done by Haaretz, Pegasus has 450 confirmed victims and at least 1400 more suspected ones – many of which are politicians, governmental officials, and other people of power.
Furthermore, although there is a legitimate way to purchase Pegasus, it is currently being distributed across the dark web. So, there is no real way to confirm the total number of cyberattacks carried out using the spyware.
Knowing this, there is a real chance that the terrorists and criminals who were supposed to be the targets are currently using Pegasus to further their agendas. So, even you can be a target – especially if you work in the public sector.
What Can You Do About It?
Keep in mind that there’s no smart device that Pegasus or similar malware cannot infiltrate. Devices with Android OS, iOS, and even specialized security-hardened systems are all vulnerable. That's because spyware takes advantage of exploits that they have been able to find sooner than the manufacturers themselves.
Luckily, there are several ways you can protect yourself. None can promise a 100% safety guarantee. But frankly, few things in life can. You can think of the situation as driving a car – using a seatbelt, and having working airbags and breaks may not save your life in every accident, but it gives you a better chance of survival.
The protective measures you can take include:
- Keep an eye on your device: It's one of the simplest precautions you can take, but why should you make it for potential attackers any easier?
- Be vigilant and watch for suspicious events: Sudden reboots of your device, sudden battery drain, no system updates, and problems accessing the microphone or camera are common signs that something is wrong with your device.
- Don't click or open anything questionable: If you receive a suspicious link, especially on apps like WhatsApp or Telegram, your best bet is not to click it. It might not be a virus. But are you willing to take that chance?
- Use a secure communication: Many chat apps claim to be secure, but that doesn't mean they really are. Look for verifiably secure options to ensure you don't become the victim of a cyber-attack.
Silentel: Pegasus Won't Fly with Us
Silentel is a cyber-secure communication app used worldwide by politicians and ordinary people alike. That's because, unlike other, more common chat apps, we can verifiably help protect your privacy and – even against digital threats like Pegasus.
But how can we protect you against something like Pegasus?
Our approach against spyware like Pegasus is based on multiple layers of defense. Silentel system is equipped with a plethora of security measures to ensure the safety and integrity on the system level, application level, and protection of your information.
For example, Silentel provides a unique mechanism that doesn't physically store messages on users’ devices. Messages are retrieved only when you open the app. This measure alone can disrupt the efforts of malware and people trying to break into your device physically.
Furthermore, we can even offer you state-of-the-art technology that can analyze, detect and alert you to any potential cyber-attack or other malicious activity on your mobile device.
With the combination of Silentel and adequate security policy, you can make the hacker's job basically impossible.
And if you need further proof, we’ve not found a single incident where Pegasus or a similar software infiltrated Silentel. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with further questions on how to strengthen your protection.