While smartphones are a great tool for humans, they can also be used as a way to access sensitive information that could be misused. Governments can gain easy access to private information using spyware such as Pegasus. The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), an agency of the US government that deals in cybersecurity, has published a bulletin for users to make them more alert and safer from spyware and other malware.
NCSC highlighted the fact that individuals and companies have sold commercial surveillance tools to governments, and others who have misused them maliciously. Although there is no mention here of Pegasus spyware the bulletin appears to hint at the possibility of using the Pegasus program.
This document also explains how journalists and dissidents around the globe have been tracked and targeted using these tools. These tools can infect both mobile devices and those connected to the internet with malware via WiFi or cellular data connections. Sometimes, the device owners might not be aware that their devices are being monitored. The malicious actor may also use suspect links to access a device.
What is a surveillance device good at?
These tools are capable of recording audio including calls.
-Track phone’s location.
Access and retrieve almost all content from a smartphone, such as text messages, files and chats.
How can we deal with such surveillance tools
Although it’s difficult to tell if someone is targeting you specifically, the agency has some guidelines that can be followed to keep one safe.
Regularly upgrade mobile apps and device operating systems.
Be suspicious of any content sent by unknown senders, particularly if it contains links or attachments
Don’t click suspicious links, emails or attachments.
Check URLs before you click links or visit websites directly.
Regularly reboot mobile devices to remove or damage malware.
Encrypt your device and protect it with a password.
Maintain physical control over your device whenever possible.
-Use trusted Virtual Private Networks.
Disable cover cameras and geolocation options on mobile devices.
According to the agency, these tips will not protect users in case of hacking. It is important to take extra precautions with sensitive data, and to assume that your device has been compromised.