Here Are Other Spyware Like Pegasus That Snoop Into Mobile Phones

Pegasus is not the first spyware to make the headlines and is highly unlikely to be the last that we’ll hear about.

Published01 Nov 2019, 12:34 PM IST
Tech News
2 min read

Pegasus, the NSO Group designed spyware, has created a furore across the globe, including India this week. This spyware is capable of entering your device without you even knowing of its existence.

Now that everyone is keen to know more about spyware, we’ve dug up some similar spyware that has been spreading over the net in the past few years. While Pegasus is a one-of-a-kind spyware, that is sold by the Israel-based agency for a steep price, there are others which have been made available through various intelligence agencies, as well as popular hackers.

Here’s a list of other spyware that has made the news.

DROPOUTJEEP

Dropoutjeep is a spyware that the National Security Agency (NSA) was using previously to spy on targeted individuals. This was done by planting the spyware on laptops as well as mobile devices, especially on Apple iPhones.

Dropoutjeep was in the news six years back, when security researcher Jacob Applebaum, quoting an NSA document, said that “it has the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.”

With all this data, the NSA was able to track a person’s movement and monitor what they are messaging or watching. All this, without giving a whiff to the person that their phone has been hacked.

RCSAndroid

According to this Livemint report, RCSAndroid spyware was spread through an app, which got published on the Google Play Store without ringing any alarm bells. This app was designed by a technology company from Milan in Italy called Hacking Team.

This company, like the NSO Group, claims to deal in surveillance software and selling them to government and law enforcement agencies. Security experts at Trend Micro in 2015, through this report, categorised RCSAndroid as “one of the most professionally developed and sophisticated Android malware ever exposed.”

Exodus

As highlighted in this report by Motherboard, this spyware was created by an Italy-based surveillance company eSurv. The detailed probe conducted by the publication, found the malware carried Italian text in its code, which is where eSurv was based out of.

But unlike Pegasus that needs complex machinery, Exodus follows a two-step process. The malware, which infected phones through an app was to be downloaded by the user, after which it is able to retrieve information like IMEI code and phone number of the target.

Once it has accessed that, the malware allows the hacker to get hold of data ranging from a list of apps, a phone’s contact list and even the pictures on the device.

P6-GEO

The surveillance segment is a popular space for Israeli companies. Another company called Picsix has designed a product that can find a person’s location, just by using their mobile number.

The P6-GEO, like other programs, is most likely used by intelligence agencies. This report by The Daily Beast, says it can be used to manipulate GSM mobile users as well.

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