December 7, 2022

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The Russian expert says stories like the Pegasus case will ‘continue’

On July 18th Published several media inquiries In collaboration with banned stories and NGOs Amnesty International, the software of the NSO group, an Israeli organization, was used to view the cell phones of at least 180 journalists, 85 human rights activists and 14 heads of state, including French President Emmanuel Macron. .

On July 22, the parliament of Israel Set up Commission of Inquiry following allegations of “misuse” of the Pegasus program.

Sputnik interviewed Alexander Sharamok, an associate professor in the Department of Telecommunications Systems at MIET, the National Research University in Brazil, about the uniqueness of the case and the possible avenues for its resolution.

Pegasus Spyware is a commercial product

First, the expert pointed out the fact that this spy software complex has been in use since 2011.

As he explains, the program’s functionality includes unauthorized and hidden installation to collect data circulating on the device on mobile phones with iOS and Android operating systems. In particular, the software is capable of recording voice and letter recordings on the phone and transferring this information elsewhere.

© AP Photo / John Thais

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks on a cell phone during the EU summit in Brussels on 20 July 2020

But the biggest oddity is that if in the past this program was used by intelligence, now it has become a commercial product, which is offered to third-party users under a business license.

“That’s where the risk lies, because technologies that previously served the needs of intelligence have been released for business access.”

Typically, these types of attacks are carried out by technologies from informal groups or hackers. Alexander Sharmok clarifies that, according to Pegasus, the software supplier was a private company that has a greater chance of producing good quality software than illegal hacker groups.

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Moreover, the Israeli government, which liberated Pegasus, said, “It can not be different.” The complex will be developed in conjunction with Israeli security services and other Western states and will be provided to pro-Tel Aviv governments and government agencies.

The company will be resurrected under another name ‘like Phoenix’

In the professor’s view, it was not the developers’ fault that their software was later used to commit crimes. Mainly this project is designed under government control.

The expert believes that the software cannot be sold without proper government permission. In addition, the developers of the program acted in accordance with the law: no violations by engineers or vendors.

He believes the NSO group would have renamed the company and survived because there will always be customers for this type of service.

“They’ll probably republish the company, which will resurrect like a phoenix under a different name.”

‘Save Who Can’

In theory, the expert estimates, there should be international cooperation in the field of information security against cyber threats, but this will not happen in the short term, as it is not possible to have trust between states in this area.

For example, there are so-called “zero day” vulnerabilities, i.e. those that have not yet been removed. According to Sharmok, these do not appear on the computer by accident, but are “deliberately linked in an undeclared form, so that developing states may attack infrastructure or individuals hostile to them.”

That is why every country should develop a plan with some technical freedom, which not only in terms of software development, but also instructs the expert in developing the software on which that software works.

Asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel Prevent the sale of spyware to countries without supervision. However, according to one expert, the reason for such restrictions on sales is not the desire to protect human rights.

To illustrate the controversial issue of human rights, the professor recalls the proverb: “Somewhere they kill an American, it’s terrorism, but somewhere they kill a Russian, it’s a struggle for freedom.”

Often, those who support this control will follow the policy of friendship or hostility of some countries with certain camps or states. “You can not spy, but we can” – this will be the real slogan of the operation.

Can such attacks be stopped?

Israeli Prime Minister Nabdali Bennett during the Cyberweek Conference in Tel Aviv on July 21 Recommended Create a “global network shield” against cyber threats and attract other countries. However, Alexander Sharmok doubts the “globalism” of such an organization, explaining his point with the example of Iran:

“For example, Iran is interested in protecting its infrastructure. But will Iran help Iran do that? The same can be said of Iran. It is unlikely that Iran will contribute to the security of the Israeli organization.”

In addition, the professor advises that if NATO members join this type of shield, the United States is more likely to become the sole regulator of the initiative.

After a media outlet that may have seen Macron’s phone numbers in 2019, the French president had to change his personal cell phone number Ordered a series of inquiries.

Nevertheless, the expert sees the positive side of the case in terms of the possible consequences of this scandal, especially as the community receives more information about such risks.

“In the future, developers of this type of software will approach this issue more responsibly,” says the professor.

Expanding on the topic, Alexander Sharmok points out the frequency of cyber espionage cases that must occur, according to his assessment.

The professor recalled another case involving the Israeli involvement of the Stuxnet virus, which attacked the infrastructure of Iran’s uranium enrichment plant. The Jewish state has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but the analysis of the code indirectly indicates that it was created by Israeli programmers, the expert said.

“These technologies were, were, and will continue to be,” he concluded.

The views expressed in this matter are inconsistent with those of the Sputnik Press.