Pegasus WhatsApp spyware : Explained and the full list of people who were spied upon

Pegasus was used to hack targets' WhatsApp using a bug.

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If you’re using WhatsApp, then for sure you’d heard a lot of rumours about the possibility of hacking one of the most used messaging platforms and a lot of people shrugging of the possibility of such a thing. Well, this has just got real.

What is Pegasus and how is Pegasus spyware installed on phones?

Back in May 2019, WhatsApp identified a bug in one of its key functions – Call. This bug made it possible for hackers to install spyware application on any phone by simply calling the target.

Pegasus spyware, developed by an Israeli company NSO, made its way to smartphones thanks to this loophole. And once installed, it can send critical information like contacts, calendar events, phone calls and messages on communication apps like WhatsApp and Telegram to the spyware’s controller. The spyware could also activate the camera on the phone to make it a live surveillance device.

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Facebook led WhatsApp learned that this malware was being used to snoop on government officials, journalists, activists, lawyers, and various countries globally, including India. It warned several users who were being spied upon and has sued NSO, the company behind the cyber attack.

WhatsApp wrote in a blog post, “We sent a special WhatsApp message to approximately 1,400 users that we have reason to believe were impacted by [May 2019] attack to directly inform them about what happened.”

Also Read: New WhatsApp bug may steal files, messages with GIFs

Full list of people targeted by Pegasus WhatsApp Spyware

Though WhatsApp has not revealed any information about the people impacted (1400 people across four continents, including diplomats, political dissidents, journalists, and senior government officials) by this attack and has not divulged their identifications, quite a few prominent people have come forward stating that they were contacted by WhatsApp. Here is the full list of people who were spied upon:

  • Praful Patel, Former Union Minister, and NCP Leader
  • Nihal Singh Rathod, Bhima-Koregaon Lawyer
  • Jagdish Meshram, Gadchiroli-based lawyer
  • Vira Sathidar, Activist-Actor
  • Bela Bhatia, Chhattisgarh-Based Dalit Rights Activist
  • Shalini Gera, Chhattisgarh-Based Lawyer
  • Degree Prasad Chauhan, Activist
  • Ankit Grewal, Bhima Koregaon Lawyer
  • Anand Teltumbde, Academic
  • Shubhranshu Choudhary, Former BBC Journalist
  • Ashish Gupta, Delhi-based PUCL Activist
  • Vivek Sundara, Activist
  • Ajmal Khan, Activist
  • Saroj Giri, DU Professor
  • Sidhant Sibal, Journalist with WION
  • Santosh Bhartiya, Former MP, and Journalist
  • Rajeev Sharma, Independent Journalist
  • Seema Azad, Activist
  • Rupali Jadhav, Human Rights Activist
  • Alok Shukla, Activist
  • Ravindranath Bhalla, Advocate
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