Nearly 1,400 people had been targeted worldwide, including in India, by surveillance technology so invasive that it can read and transmit the entire content of a phone as well as operate its camera. WhatsApp did not name the entities behind the clandestine surveillance attempts but the Israeli company NOS Group, which developed the technology, has said it sells “Pegasus” only to vetted governments and their agencies.
As per Whatsapp, the people targeted in India include former Union minister Praful Patel and former Lok Sabha MP Santosh Bharatiya; it added that the company had identified 41 people in all. Of these, 21 were journalists, lawyers and activists.
IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted: “The government of India is concerned over the breach of privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform WhatsApp. We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens.”
WhatsApp will have to response by November 4.
Attackers used servers and Internet-hosting services that were previously associated with NSO. WhatsApp had also managed “to tie certain WhatsApp accounts used during the attacks back to NSO”. The attack was “highly sophisticated” but the attackers’ attempts to erase their tracks had not been successful.