According to a news report from Reuters, senior officials of the EU were supposedly targeted by the NSO Group’s scandalous Pegasus surveillance tool.
The news agency further pointed out that five individuals, including European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, and two unnamed E.U. officials, have been singled out in total. But, it is still not clear what information was obtained following the attack or who used this commercial spyware against them.
Though the targeting has happened using an NSO tool, the NSO Group has clarified to Reuters that they are not responsible for hacking attempts.
The NGO group has been under the radar since Apple cautioned the victims last November about the state-sponsored attacks in its attempt to block the Israeli surveillance companies from aiming at its customer.
In the same month, Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, seeking help from the court to get the company banned from using its services and products to launch and develop spyware attacks.
Pegasus exploits like FORCEDENTRY are usually installed via refined “zero-click” exploits. It allows law enforcement customers and the government access to the destined device and shares their precise location, messages, photos, and personal data.
The US government has added the NSO Group to its trade blocklist after Pegasus’s prevalent offense to consistently spying on civilians. It has sequentially encouraged Israel to curb the number of nations to which regional defensive companies can sell surveillance tools and offensive hacking.
Pointing out the technology’s “unprecedented level of intrusiveness,” the European Data Protection Supervisor, in February 2022, called for boycotting the use and the development of Pegasus-like industrial spyware in the area that could threaten the right of privacy of the user.
Despite efforts to control the utilization of spyware, weeks after Apple initiated the legal proceedings, it was found by the forensic investigation department the last week that the iPhone of a human rights defender and Jordanian journalist, Suhair Jaradat, was hacked in December 2021 via a nasty WhatsApp message using Pegasus.
The report further said that it is especially remarkable to notice that the targeting of the victim was only uncovered after the prevalent propaganda around Apple’s notifications and lawsuits.
Surprisingly, this can happen to anyone. Therefore, it is always recommended that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from any such spyware and ransomware. Some of them are:
- Use a VPN: You should install a VPN for PC, tablets, and mobile phones to have an additional layer of protection for your devices. VPN reroutes your device through a server located at a different location or perhaps, a different country, making it impossible for any software or cybercriminal to trace you or decipher your data.
- Pay Attention to Your Downloads: You should thoroughly check before downloading any content from file-sharing websites. Malware and spyware are often hidden in these files and can enter your system giving access to the cybercriminals.
- Update Your System: Sometimes, the latest update of software or browser fixes any bugs that leave your device accessible to spyware. Therefore, you should always update them as soon as a new version is available.
- Use Anti-Spyware Software: Antivirus software acts as a defending layer and protects you from any kind of virus. There are different anti-virus software available in the market to fit your needs and budget.
- Avoid Pop-Ups: No matter how attractive a pop-up on your device might look, never select anything that appears on your screen. You might end up downloading spyware or viruses that can harm your data. You can consider installing a pop-up blocker to avoid them completely.
- Keep an Eye on Your Email: If you do not recognize the sender, then do not download any document until you find it authentic. It might be clickbait that could force you into sharing your information or data.