Since the establishment of the State of Israel, its leaders have been developing espionage systems that are active in all parts of the world, especially the Arab world and among the Palestinians in particular.
Their activities have extended to include allies such as the USA and the EU. In recent years Israel witnessed a huge technology development that put it at the top countries in the world. A large part of this technology development was directed to serve its security goals – as it describes it – including software aimed at spying on countries and individuals alike.
What is Pegasus?
Pegasus has played an active role in the Tel Aviv system of international espionage on individuals of all groups that are important to Tel Aviv, ie heads of state, journalists, and human rights activists.
Pegasus is a hacking program – or spyware – developed by the Israeli company NSO Group and marketed to the governments of countries around the world.
It has the ability to hack billions of phones running iOS or Android operating systems. The oldest discovered version of it, obtained by researchers in 2016, penetrates phones through what is called phishing, that is, text messages or emails where the target clicks on a hacked link.
It developed further and can now reach its targets through so-called “zero-click” attacks, which do not require any interaction from the owner of the phone to be able to hack it.
These attacks often exploit zero-day vulnerabilities, which are flaws or bugs in the operating system that the mobile phone manufacturer hasn’t discovered and therefore been unable to fix yet.
Once installed on the phone, it can collect any information or extract any file, and it can leak text messages, numbers, call history, calendars, emails, and internet browsing history and it is now very difficult to identify its attacks.
Security researchers believe that newer versions of Pegasus only work in the phone’s temporary memory, not its hard drive, which means that once the phone is turned off, almost every trace of the program disappears.
The map of countries in which the Pegasus program operates included more than 45 countries around the world, including most of the Arab countries. Israel has sold this program to many countries, including the UAE, which has become a strategic ally of Tel Aviv in the region.
Heads of state such as the French President Emmanuel Macron have been spied on through this program, as well as Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, and hundreds of journalists and human rights defenders in the world.
It is believed that Saudi Arabia used this program to spy on journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s phone prior to his assassination at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
The President of the European Commission stated; The use of spyware to target journalists is totally unacceptable, following reports that spyware produced by an Israeli company was used to hack the mobile phones of a group of journalists, government officials, and human rights activists around the world.
Ursula von der Leyen added: “If this has happened it is absolutely unacceptable, it is against all rules in the European Union.”
No one can confirm if the Israeli company that developed the Pegasus program is stopping the program completely, as this software can be used to develop other new programs that can hide and work more effectively than the old ones, and the only way to find out is unfortunately to catch new victims.