As one of the leading commercial spyware programs, Pegasus has been used by a host of companies, governments, and other entities to collect sensitive data from individuals’ smartphones. If Pegasus is deployed on your smartphone, your sensitive data could be at risk.
Read on to learn how to detect Pegasus spyware on your smartphone.
How to Detect Pegasus Spyware on Your Smartphone
The data privacy demands of today’s IT landscape call for robust mobile security, as more individuals rely on smartphone applications for essential day-to-day tasks.
Safeguarding your smartphone data from threats like Pegasus starts with knowing how to:
- Scan for and detect Pegasus spyware on your smartphone
- Identify Pegasus spyware installed on your smartphone
- Remove Pegasus spyware from your Android or iPhone
- Prevent Pegasus spyware from compromising your smartphone data
Dealing with advanced mobile security risks like Pegasus spyware is much easier with the help of a managed security services provider (MSSP), who can advise on how to detect pegasus spyware on iPhone or Android.
What is Pegasus Spyware?
Developed by the NSO group in Israel, Pegasus is signature spyware that has been implicated in the secret surveillance of individuals worldwide. Pegasus spyware is considered dangerous because it allows an attacker to control a victim’s smartphone.
Using Pegasus spyware, a perpetrator can:
- Wiretap and listen to conversations
- Access photos and videos
- Control applications on a smartphone
It is difficult and often impossible for antivirus solutions to detect Pegasus spyware because it exploits zero-day vulnerabilities, which are unknown to the developers of these solutions.
How to Detect Pegasus Spyware
Over years of extensive research, Amnesty International has developed a methodology to detect Pegasus spyware on smartphones, providing it to the public as a resource on Github.
Using Amnesty International’s methodology, you can find a list of:
- Domain names of Pegasus infrastructure
- Email addresses identified in previous attacks
- Process names associated with Pegasus
Beyond the indicators of Pegasus compromise methodology, Amnesty International also released a Mobile Verification Toolkit (MVT) to help support users interested in detecting Pegasus spyware on their smartphones. With the help of Amnesty International’s spyware detection tools, you can learn how to detect pegasus spyware on Android or iPhone.
How to Detect Pegasus Spyware on iOS
Here’s how to check for pegasus spyware on iOS devices such as iPhones:
- Create a backup of encrypted data on a device other than your smartphone
- Once your smartphone is securely backed up, download the MVT tool onto your iPhone and follow Amnesty International’s instructions for detecting Pegasus.
Whereas other apps can detect Pegasus on iOS, it’s best to follow Amnesty International’s instructions or work with a qualified MSSP to avoid running into any issues while detecting the spyware.
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How to Detect Pegasus Spyware on Android
Although the MVT mostly caters to iOS devices, it can still detect Pegasus on Android.
If you are wondering how to detect Pegasus spyware on Android with the MVT, the first places to start looking are potentially malicious text messages and APKs on your smartphone.
How Pegasus Works
For most Pegasus infections, the spyware is installed remotely on victims’ smartphones. However, Pegasus can be installed physically, and, in some cases, it can use the victim’s smartphone for data storage prior to transmitting data to a remote server.
Pegasus Remote Installation
Pegasus spyware can be remotely installed on a smartphone via:
- Zero-click attacks – Zero-click exploits typically leverage applications such as Apple Music or iMessage to send requests to the victim’s smartphone. Here, the victim does not interact with the spyware and is clueless about the download of Pegasus spyware.
- Malicious text messages – A victim receives a text message containing an exploit link for a Pegasus spyware download. Clicking the link deploys spyware on the victim’s smartphone.
- Network injection attack – While browsing the Internet, a victim is redirected from a clear-text HTTP website to a decoy of a legitimate business. Unknowingly, a victim may then provide access credentials or other sensitive information.
In most cases, remote installation of Pegasus spyware on victims’ phones via zero-click attacks leverages zero-day vulnerabilities, of which the smartphone manufacturer may not be aware.
This makes Pegasus spyware very dangerous to its victims, who may not realize their sensitive data is being surveilled until it is too late.
Pegasus Physical Installation
While it is uncommon, Pegasus can be installed by connecting a victim’s smartphone to another device such as a computer to deploy the spyware. However, this would involve the difficult task of accessing a victim’s smartphone without their knowledge.
Pegasus Data Management
According to NSO, the spyware will transmit data from a victim’s smartphone to a server where the attacker can access the data. However, if Pegasus is unable to send data to a server, it will transmit the data to a “hidden and encrypted buffer” within the phone’s storage.
What Data Can Pegasus Access?
Once deployed on a smartphone, Pegasus spyware can access a range of data, including:
- Text messages
- Photos and videos
- Personal contacts
- Audio messages and recordings
Detecting Pegasus spyware on your smartphone is critical to minimizing the risks of your sensitive data being exposed by perpetrators.
Can Pegasus be Removed?
You can remove Pegasus from your smartphone by attempting the following actions:
- Restarting your smartphone, to put a temporary stop to Pegasus
- Resetting your smartphone to its factory settings, which may remove Pegasus
- Updating your smartphone’s system software and apps to current versions
- Removing any unknown device connections to social media platforms
When removing Pegasus from your smartphone, it is always best to work with the MVT resource provided by Amnesty International. If Pegasus spyware removal becomes difficult, consider consulting an MSSP for help.
What to Do if You Have Pegasus
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), here’s what to do if you have Pegasus:
- Buy a new smartphone and stop using the one infected with Pegasus, ensuring the compromised smartphone is not close to you or your work environment.
- Change passwords for all accounts on the new smartphone and remember to sign out of the accounts on the compromised one.
If you have Pegasus, it is best to contact an experienced MSSP, who will point you to Pegasus spyware removal tools that will help remove Pegasus and keep your data safe.
Other Spyware like Pegasus
Besides Pegasus, other types of spyware include:
- Trojans, which can steal a victim’s funds or credentials to make fraudulent purchases.
- Stealware, which can intercept traffic from online shopping sites like those offering credits or rewards for purchases.
With everyone using smartphones or tablets to store sensitive information like account passwords, securing these devices from spyware and other forms of malware is paramount.
In an organizational setting, it is critical for leadership to emphasize the importance of mobile security in defending sensitive data stored on smartphones from various types of spyware.
How to Protect From Pegasus and Other Spyware
Protecting your organization from Pegasus and other spyware revolves around implementing mobile device security best practices such as:
- Encrypting any communication of sensitive data with industry-standard algorithms
- Keeping up-to-date with the latest phishing and malware attempts
- Updating your smartphone or mobile device with the latest security patches
- Using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication on all mobile devices
- Conducting routine penetration testing on mobile devices that contain sensitive data
If you are wondering how to block Pegasus spyware, some of the mobile security best practices above can help. However, it’s best to implement them with the guidance of a leading MSSP.
Optimize Your Defenses Against Spyware
Should your smartphone become infected with Pegasus spyware, it is critical to remove it before it can compromise data security. Working with RSI Security, an experienced MSSP, will help you implement various strategies that guide you on how to detect Pegasus spyware on your smartphone. Contact RSI Security today to learn more and get started!
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