The US NCSC and the Dept of State published defense guidance on protecting against commercial surveillance spyware. “Journalists, dissidents, and other persons around the world have been targeted and tracked using these tools, which allow malign actors to infect mobile and internet-connected devices with malware over both WiFi and cellular data connections. In some cases, malign actors can infect a targeted device with no action from the device owner.”
This guidance follows on news published by the Washington Post on Dec. 3rd of Pegasus spyware used to hack U.S. diplomats working abroad disclosing attacks that hit at least 11 US officials focused on matters concerning the East African country of Uganda.
The governments warning is specific:
These surveillance tools can:
• Record audio, including phone calls.
• Track phone’s location.
• Access and retrieve virtually all content on a phone, including text messages,
<p>Pegasus is spyware on steroids where is it is designed to be extremely stealthy and persistent on compromised smartphones. Once a phone is compromised, it takes advantage of all its capabilities, including voice, camera, and text, to conduct 24-hour surveillance of the user — and yes, unbeknownst to the user. It is seen as a targeted attack because it focuses on key individuals, like government officials and journalists. Pegasus looks for 0-day flaws in smartphones to exploit and infect them and does not leave much of a trace. Pegasus is a double-edged sword where it is supposedly designed to learn more about criminal and terrorist activities but can just as easily be used to do the same with government officials, journalists, and activists.</p>