The NSO group – an Israeli-owned surveillance company – hacked the cellphones of several reporters, politicians, and activists with the help of an app called Pegasus, an Israeli Spyware.
The Israeli Spyware can easily be installed in phones by sending a malicious missed call, text message, or web link. Once installed the spyware can then get access to all the text messages, calls, passwords, contacts, and photos.
According to the Washington Post, Pegasus was controlled by the authoritarian government hacking 37 phones. However, according to The Guardian, this number was much higher and it was reported that 50,000 smartphones were hacked using Israeli Spyware.
The list leaked of the affected smartphones contained the names of several members of Arab royal families, Heads of State, Prime Ministers, politicians, journalists, activists, and business executives.
Pegasus targetted several journalists of world-famous and international media organizations like The Guardian, Al Jazeera, CNN, The Newyork Times, Bloomberg, the Economist, and various other media organizations.
Previously, a list was leaked with names of 1400 people that were affected by the Israeli Spyware, Pegasus.
Moreover, in the recent list containing 50,000 names, most names were from the following 10 countries – Bahrain, India, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Mexico, and Morrocco.
It was also discovered that the Israeli Spyware was also found on the phone of the fiance of a recently murdered Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. This is making numerous people speculate if Israel played a role in the murder of the journalist.
Initially non-profit organizations based in Paris, Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, got hold of the leaked list.