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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pegasus, Israeli Spyware: Govt Officials Warned Not to Use WhatsApp

The Ministry of Information and Technology has cautioned government officials against using WhatsApp for any official correspondence, as it has been infected by Israeli malware, Pegasus, a spying software that tracks sensitive documents and correspondence by infecting the device through a missed call.

The Federal Ministry of Information Technology has issued a confidential letter to the concerned authorities and public sector organizations, advising them against the use of WhatsApp for official correspondence.

This confidential letter has come in the wake of an Israel spyware stealthily installed on the WhatsApp software, for the purpose of monitoring the activities of the user, tracking the movements of the user, and extracting sensitive data.

Hostile Agencies Spying through WhatsApp

The letter has issued a warning to all concerned authorities against the use of WhatsApp for carrying out any official correspondence, as “hostile intelligence agencies” can attempt to access sensitive data and information that is stored within the mobile phone, or being communicated through WhatsApp.

Pegasus, the Israeli spyware has sent ripples of alarm across the world as it has already penetrated the smartphone devices of millions of WhatsApp users since April this year. This mammoth cyber-attack has been acknowledged by the creators of WhatsApp, and the company has started a lawsuit against the Israeli manufacturer of the software.

Experts observe that Pakistani mobile users need to be cautioned as their concern increases due to the Indian government’s rampant use of the spyware software to steal sensitive data stored in mobile phones.

Indian Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi has also accused the Narendra Modi-led Indian government for collaborating with Israeli spy agencies to spy on the mobile phone devices of politicians, activists, lawyers and journalists.

Read more: Cyber Security Check: Are you protected in the wake of the recent hacking?

Recently, WhatsApp/Facebook sued an Israeli firm in the US court of San Francisco for violating the laws of the US and the State of California, alongside violating the terms of service issued by WhatsApp.

Spying with a Missed Call

Reports reveal that Pegasus was recently employed by 1400 senior government and military dignitaries across 20 countries, including Pakistan. The software allows the user to infect any mobile phone device by simply generating a missed call on the targeted WhatsApp number.

The Ministry of Information and Technology has cautioned all government officials holding sensitive portfolios and dealing with national security issues to avoid sharing any classified information through WhatsApp or other applications in order to reduce the chances of the infection by Pegasus malware.

Read more: India demands answers from WhatsApp after reports of spying

The Ministry has also cautioned government officials to discard all mobile phones purchased before May 10 of this year.