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16 Aug 2021

Claudia Glover, Tech Monitor

Pegasus scandal shows spyware threatens human rights & cybersecurity, risks falling into criminal hands

"Spyware threatens both human rights and cybersecurity", 16 August 2021.

Pegasus, a ‘spyware’ application from Israeli software company NSO Group, is sold as a tool to help governments crack down on terrorists, paedophiles and other criminals. But, as a recent exposé revealed, it is also used by authoritarian regimes to spy on journalists, activists and opposition politicians. Not only does spyware endanger liberty and human rights, experts warn, it would prove disastrous for cybersecurity should it fall into criminal hands...

[A]s well as threatening human rights, the global backlash against encryption could empower the criminal forces it claims to target. Once systems such as Pegasus are created, they are likely to end up in criminal hands, says Toni Vitale, partner at Gateley Legal...

The degree of access granted by spyware systems makes them potent tools for cybercriminals... ‘Zero-click’ malware infection would be especially effective in cyberattacks against businesses, says Vitali.

The Pegasus scandal has raised concerns among lawmakers: in June, four US congressmen called for NSO Group to be sanctioned. Meanwhile, the company has been the subject of investigations by US authorities following a lawsuit by WhatsApp. The worry, though, is that it has already shown criminals and dictators what is possible.