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Pegasus spyware in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

34 minutes
Pegasus spyware in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

Last week, on May 25, the digital-rights group Access Now broke a story revealing that Pegasus spyware was used to hack civil-society figures in Armenia. Notably, these infiltrations took place against the backdrop of the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh — making this investigation’s findings the first documented evidence of Pegasus spyware being used in the context of an international war.

Never heard of Pegasus? Well, buckle up. Developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group, this frighteningly sophisticated piece of hacking software is capable of infecting both iOS and Android devices through so-called “zero-click” attacks. In other words, it can worm its way into your phone — often by exploiting vulnerabilities that the manufacturer has yet to find and fix — and you’d be none the wiser. Once installed, Pegasus grants total access to your device, allowing the hacker to not only view your messages, emails, and photos, but also track your phone’s location, record calls, and use the camera and microphone to capture what’s going on around you. “Basically, the attacker gets control of the settings and has even more control than you yourself have over your device,” Natalia Krapiva, a tech-legal counsel at Access Now, told Eilish Hart, editor of Meduza’s weekly newsletter The Beet, in an interview for this week’s show.

Timestamps for this episode:

  • (3:46) What is Pegasus spyware?
  • (5:31) What is NSO Group, the Israeli firm that developed the tool?
  • (7:25) Access Now’s investigative findings
  • (12:56) Reactions from those targeted in this spying campaign
  • (15:15) Who is behind hacking all these figures in Armenia?
  • (19:28) Using Pegasus in the context of a war
  • (22:50) Reactions to Access Now’s investigation
  • (25:20) International spyware policymaking, going forward

New episodes of The Naked Pravda are released at the end of every week. Catch each show by subscribing through Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or one of these other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the podcast, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Sound editing and mixing by Eilish Hart and Kevin Rothrock

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