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Explainer: NSO spygate row - How Pegasus broke into WhatsApp

Representative image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 05, 2019, 01.26 PM (IST)

The recent WhatsApp hacking spree was carried out using a very powerful software called Pegasus, a product of the Israeli-based NSO group. Many journalists, activists and diplomats were caught off guard by the Spygate scandal.  

The software labelled as a weapon can access anyone's mobile phone. As per the company, the software was created to tackle terrorist organisations and organised crime.

WION's West Asia chief, Daniele Pagani decodes the Pegasus software which can virtually access anything on your smartphone.

Page-16 of the user manual of Pegasus which was leaked recently on the internet describes what kind of data Pegasus can access; the answer is "anything" be it your photos, browser history, calendar records, social media, even phone calls.

In pics: A brief look at Israel's thriving hacking industry

If this isn't scary enough, the Pegasus can monitor your location as well and record you via the phone's microphone.

It can also access snapshots from the phone's camera and even capture the screen.

Page-nine of the document lists out the benefits of Pegasus.

Watch: WION breaks down how Pegasus broke into WhatsApp

Hackers can get unlimited access to a target's mobile devices.

They can intercept calls and data while tracking specific applications like Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook and even the Blackberry messenger.

Pegasus is the ultimate cyber-surveillance tool as it can extract data and information without the victims even realising that they have been hacked.

The Pegasus user manual proudly proclaims on page-10 that the spyware doesn't leave a trace on a device as it can self destruct to escape detection.

Here is how it looks on the other side.

If you are using Pegasus to spy on someone these are the tools that are available to you.

All stolen data is organised neatly into a calendar styled preview.

The hackers can create alerts to track certain activity and can also even choose to view any specific activities, like messages, location information or emails.

There is a call log too. Once a victim is hacked, their phone calls can be monitored. There is an option to playback specific conversations.

There is a dashboard to track location activity as well.

A victim's movements are tracked by taking control of the GPS on the phone it is represented on the map with location markers.