How “Pegasus 2” Hacks Your Phone Without a Single Click

Pegasus Spyware

How “Pegasus 2” Hacks Your Phone Without a Single Click

NSO Group began capturing cellphone communications using Pegasus 2 in 2011.

What Is Pegasus 2?: Explained

Pegasus was a type of spyware accomplished in carrying out successful cell phone hack attempts. NSO Group developed the zero-click hack as a means of monitoring communications from political leaders, journalists, and activists in several countries.

The no-click hack worked very simply. Recipients receive a text message with a link to follow, which results in the phone getting jailbroken. After the phone is jailbroken, the malware is installed. Because of the unique way this hack is transmitted, it can affect iPhone and Android devices equally as easily.

Quick Facts

Creator (person)
Original Price
Operating System
Windows, iOS, Mac OS, Android
Developed By (company)
NSO Group

One of the things that can happen after a download is that the phone can access all the communications. The information that Pegasus 2 can collect includes data from apps like WhatsApp. Another thing that Pegasus 2 can do is access Wi-Fi passwords stored on the phone.

Pegasus 2 vs. DROPOUTJEEP

A similar type of cell phone hack to Pegasus 2 was DROPOUTJEEP, a type of spyware that the National Security Agency (NSA) used to track individuals around 2016. Like Pegasus 2, the zero-click hack could capture communications from the phone. However, one key difference with the no-click hack was its ability to capture additional information like the cell tower location and audio picked up on the microphone.

One of the things that stands out about this no-click hack is that the recipients have been unaware that their devices were infected. Another difference was that besides iPhone and Android devices, the malware also ended up on computers.

Pegasus Spyware
Pegasus was Pegasus 2’s predecessor.

Pegasus 2 Release History

Pegasus 2 was developed by NSO Group as a cell phone hack as far back as 2011. However, iPhone exploitation was mostly unknown until 2016. A human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor, received a link promising information about human rights abuse occurring in prisons in the United Arab Emirates. Monsoor, with the help of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, discovered that the spyware would have been downloaded via a link had he not known to refrain from following it.

Citizen Lab, along with Lookout Security which creates apps to fight malware, discovered that a vulnerability in several iOS versions made this zero-click hack possible. Lookout concluded that this malicious download may have taken root as early as 2012. Further versions of this malware have been unknown.

Pegasus 2: End of Development

NSO Group was the subject of several lawsuits in 2018 alleging that NSO’s clients violated several subjects’ human rights, including Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada, and Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist and activist murdered in Turkey.

iPhone lock
Pegasus 2 can bypass Android and Apple security features.

Pegasus 2 in the News

In March 2023, Amnesty International and the news organization Forbidden Stories released a report that said that Pegasus 2 had been used in over 40 countries to target activists, journalists, and politicians. The spyware is also capable of bypassing Apple and Android security features. Several countries have banned the sale or use of the virus, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an investigation into the use of Pegasus 2.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When did Pegasus 2 Come out?

Pegasus 2 was developed in 2011 and was first known to have been used for surveillance in 2012.

What was the original price of Pegasus 2?

Although there is no traditional retail price, Mexico is known to have paid as much as $15 million to use this exploit over three years.

What is Pegasus spyware?

Pegasus spyware was developed by NSO and could be installed covertly to access communications on a phone, including texts and apps like WhatsApp.

Can you tell if your phone has been hacked by Pegasus?

The Mobile Verification Toolkit from Amnesty can detect Pegasus 2.

What is a no-click hack?

A no-click hack takes advantage of security vulnerabilities to break into a device without the victim clicking on a link.

Can hackers use Pegasus?

Although designed for government use, Pegasus 2 uses technology that is easy for hackers to replicate.

Is Pegasus spyware on my phone?

Pegasus spyware could be on your phone if you have received any suspicious text or WhatsApp messages.

How does Pegasus enter the phone?

Pegasus entires the phone through a security vulnerability.

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