Pegasus software, a high end surveillance malware from NSO in Israel is in the international news nowadays, with claims that Indian journalists, political leaders and even ministers are being tracked with Pegasus. NSO claims that it sells this malware to only governments for tracking terrorists and criminals, while media reports are questioning why the journalists and ministers are reportedly being tracked with this malware if it’s meant for tracking terrorists and criminals.
What is Pegasus?
This malware according to reports, lodges inside the smartphone of the target without giving any sign that it has lodged itself there. It can record conversations, take pictures of the target and can even bypass passwords to open financial accounts and withdraw money. The most dangerous is its use on WhatsApp, as many Indian businesses use WhatsApp for business communication. Reportedly, Pegasus can read all the messages on WhatsApp and can record the calls made on WhatsApp.
In media circles, Pegasus is being cited as the biggest threat to citizens’ right to privacy and an end to democracy. By far, there’s no clear solution for de-infecting the smartphone of Pegasus once it gets inside the phone.
Since it’s being used internationally in many countries, it’s not clear yet whether the data hacked by this malware is being transmitted to another country.
Implications for IT MSMEs
In India, many IT MSMEs use WhatsApp and other smartphone apps for business activities. This is in sharp contrast to Europe and North America, where smartphone apps are not trusted for commercial negotiations and email is still the standard mode of business communication. Thus, Indian IT MSMEs are in danger of jeopardising their commercial activities by transmitting all their sensitive business communications through Pegasus to the hacker.
Seeing the situation, it would be adviseable for the Indian IT MSMEs to not use WhatsApp for business purposes. They should make minimum use of smartphone and keep a 2G mobile for alternative use, so that they can keep themselves protected. They should follow the example of North America and Europe and use email for business communications. They should especially be careful while dealing with businesses from other countries, especially from sensitive countries like China and Israel.