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India questions Mark Zuckerberg over 'WhatsApp's Pegasus' spyware

By Geetika Raleh . 2nd November 2019 03:36pm
India questions Mark Zuckerberg over 'WhatsApp's Pegasus' spyware

The Indian government on Friday questioned the authorities at WhatsApp for not disclosing the full information of Pegasus to the citizens whose phones were targeted. The authorities of the US social media app failed to give full information despite the meetings which were conducted in the last months.

Later, WhatsApp authorities issued a statement as a counter to the Indian government and said that in the month of May it had “quickly resolved a security issue and notified Indian and international government authorities.”

One of the officials said, “We met with their high-ranking executives after that but nobody told us that India had also been hit by the spyware. We learned of it only through news reports after Facebook/WhatsApp filed the lawsuit.

What is a 'Pegasus' spyware?

Pegasus is a software which lets the user gain access to the camera, messages, emails of an infected smartphone. It has been developed by NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli technology cybersecurity firm.

According to the makers of the software, it has only been sold to the government authorities to fight against terrorism and crime. It can affect both, iOS and Android phones.

Visible signs of the phone being affected

There is no sign of whether the phone is affected or not. Just a simple WhatsApp call and the phone will get affected. It is a software that is self-destructing and anti-forensic, making it difficult to detect.

How to get rid of phone affected by Pegasus?

There is no solution to it as of now. You simply change your phone and hope that it doesn't get affected again.

Pegasus vs The Indian Government

The global head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart met Indian authorities and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in July along with the global head of Facebook’s public policy, Nick Clegg, in separate meetings.

What Next?

Social media giants Facebook and Google have been questioned by the US authorities earlier this year when the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to limelight. There hasn't been a clear answer as to what the security protocols should be when it comes to the data these platforms store. How do we police them without hampering their freedom of speech and ours as well? 

It's a question for the lawmakers and governments to answer but it is surely entering the minds of the Indian people that their data is not safe. First, the Aadhar card data leak and now this. Where are the security measures when we need them the most?