Israeli ‘spyware’ invasion forces govt to discard WhatsApp

Published November 28, 2019
The federal Ministry of Information Technology has issued a confidential letter to the authorities concerned, advising them not to use WhatsApp for official correspondence since an Israeli spyware stealthily installed on the software was being used to monitor users’ activities, sensitive data and movements. — AFP/File
The federal Ministry of Information Technology has issued a confidential letter to the authorities concerned, advising them not to use WhatsApp for official correspondence since an Israeli spyware stealthily installed on the software was being used to monitor users’ activities, sensitive data and movements. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The federal Ministry of Information Technology has issued a confidential letter to the authorities concerned, advising them not to use WhatsApp for official correspondence since an Israeli spyware stealthily installed on the software was being used to monitor users’ activities, sensitive data and movements.

“Hostile intelligence” agencies can try to gain access to sensitive information stored or communicated through mobile phones, the letter warned.

Pegasus, the spyware, has sent a wave of concerns around the globe as it has already infected mobile devices of millions of WhatsApp users since April. WhatsApp has acknowledged the cyber attack and initiated a lawsuit against the Israeli maker of the software.

According to experts, Pakistani mobile users could be in double jeopardy as the Indian government is also reportedly using the spyware to steal mobile data. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi has even accused the Modi government of working with Israeli spy agencies to snoop into the phones of journalists, lawyers, activists and politicians.

Recently, an Israeli company was sued by Whatsapp/Facebook in the US court of San Francisco for violating both US and California laws as well as the WhatsApp terms of service.

Pegasus was employed recently by 1,400 senior government and military officials in 20 countries, including Pakistan. The software is capable of infecting any mobile phone only by generating a missed call on target WhatsApp number.

The ministry said that in order to minimise the possibility of any infection by Pegasus malware, government officials holding sensitive portfolios and dealing with national security matters should not share any classified information on WhatsApp or any similar application.

The ministry also advised the government officials to discard all mobile phones purchased before May 10 this year.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2019

Opinion

Blood and oil
Updated 03 Mar 2021

Blood and oil

Uncle Sam is only mildly miffed with the Saudis.
A twist to behold
02 Mar 2021

A twist to behold

The issue here is that the Islamabad election is but a smaller story arc.

Editorial

Vaccine challenges
Updated 03 Mar 2021

Vaccine challenges

THE last few months have seen several countries rolling out vaccination drives against the novel coronavirus, which...
03 Mar 2021

Rising prices

CONTRARY to government projections and market expectations, the cost of goods and services for the public during...
03 Mar 2021

Myanmar crisis

THE political crisis triggered by the military coup in Myanmar on Feb 1 is worsening, with the generals refusing to...
SC on Senate polls
Updated 02 Mar 2021

SC on Senate polls

THE Supreme Court has declared in its short order on the reference sent by the president under Article 186 of the...
02 Mar 2021

Khashoggi report

THE grisly 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate shocked people...
02 Mar 2021

Heritage trail

THE heritage trail project in central Punjab, inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday in Jhelum district,...