Proof of Pegasus use on phones, Cyber experts tell SC panel

At least two cyber-security researchers, who have deposed before the Supreme Court-appointed committee that’s probing the use of Pegasus for allegedly spying on citizens, have told the panel that they found concrete evidence of use of the malware on the devices of the petitioners.

These cyber-security researchers were engaged by some of the petitioners to depose before the top court panel and provide details of the forensic analysis done by them.

One of the two researchers anyalsed iPhones of seven people, of which two were found to be infected with Pegasus, this researcher told The Indian Express. The researcher submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court and subsequently deposed before the panel to say that the evidence on the two phones were uncovered using a forensic tool.

After deleting personally identifiable data from the devices of the two persons, the cybersecurity researcher found that while Pegasus had infected the phone of one of the petitioners in April 2018, the other phone had “multiple entries” for various stages of malware deployment between June and July 2021.

“Multiple entries going back to March 2021 indicating that the Pegasus malware tried to delete entries from the process table databases,” the first cybersecurity researcher said in the affidavit to the Supreme Court.

The other cybersecurity researcher, who analysed Android phones of six of the petitioners in the case, found distinct versions of the malware on four phones, while two of the remaining devices had variants of the original versions of Pegasus present on them, this researcher told The Indian Express.

“We have an emulator for Android on which we verified that it has all the variants of the malware. What we found is that this (malware) is so virulent that it could not have been used for legitimate purposes. It not only reads your chats, it can get your videos, turn the audio or video at any time,” the cybersecurity researcher said.

The Supreme Court had on October 27 last year appointed a three-member panel, under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge Justice R V Raveendran, to look into the allegations of unauthorised surveillance using the Pegasus spyware. The…