Q. Pegasus: Security concerns to India & What are steps taken to tackle such Cyber Security threats?
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Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF

Thank you for your question.

Cyberspace is a dynamic and complex environment of users, networks, information systems, and services. Due to its characteristics of anonymity and borderless, cyberspace is vulnerable to various security concerns worldwide.

In October 2019, Indian news media reported global breach of WhatsApp data, including around 121 Indians, with the use of ‘Pegasus’ programme developed by Israel-based organisations—NSO Group. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) raised concerns, and on 02nd November 2019, the MeitY had received response from WhatsApp on the matter. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued ‘clarification-seeking’ notices to the NSO Group and WhatsApp, seeking details about the malware used in the Pegasus and its implications on Indian users.

Further, dealing with cyber security threats in India, the CERT-In is tracking such threats affecting netizens in cyber milieu, and issue advisories about best and safe cyber practices for protecting (personal) information and other data while using social media and further security mobile devices.

Further reading/sources:

- Government of India- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. “NSO Spyware Scandal- Unstarred question no. 1951”, Rajya Sabha, 05 December 2019, Available from: https://pqars.nic.in/annex/250/AU1951.pdf

- Government of India- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. “List of WhatsApp users affected by Pegasus- Unstarred question no. 1642”, Rajya Sabha, 05 March 2020, Available from: https://pqars.nic.in/annex/251/AU1642.pdf

- Sharma, Anurag. “Pegasus-A Powerful Tool of WhatsApp Surveillance”, Vivekananda International Foundation, 05 February 2020, Available from: https://www.vifindia.org/2020/february/05/pegasus-a-powerful-tool-of-whatsapp-surveillance.

Date : 25/08/2021
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