In a big development, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has shut down infrastructure and accounts linked to Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group that sells spyware Pegasus, global news platform Vice reported US-based tech giant as saying.
The move comes as a group of media outlets and activist organisations published new research into NSO's malware and phone numbers potentially selected for targeting by NSO's government clients.
"When we learned of this activity, we acted quickly to shut down the relevant infrastructure and accounts," an AWS spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.
A global collaborative investigative project, along with Amnesty International, in a detailed report revealed Pegasus spyware targeted various people across the world, including India where around 300 mobile numbers were snooped using the spyware.
Pegasus is among highly rated spyware or modular malware, as Kaspersky described in 2017. It is a tool that's not limited to any device or software application. It can be installed by sending a malicious link to a target device, and it is seamless enough to be identified by the person using the targeted device.
British newsdaily The Guardian, in a report, has claims the analysis of the leaked data shows at least 10 governments, including India, are clients of the Israeli NSO group, creating a major controversy in India.
Reports say targets in India include two serving ministers in the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, three opposition leaders, a constitutional authority, many media professionals and businessmen.
A global digital news platform The Wire in its report said a leaked database of 50,000 telephone numbers was assessed by French non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International. This report was then shared with multiple global media organisations. It claimed the spyware sent all the information from the target's phones to "Amazon CloudFront" servers, Amazon's data delivery platform.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties, including Congress, in India have said the government must answer if it acquired the Pegasus software/spyware to snoop Indian individuals.
IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said reports of Pegasus spyware being used for spying on Indian journalists, ministers, government officials and opposition leaders are an attempt to malign the Indian democracy. On the first day of the Monsoon session in Lok Sabha today, the Minister of Electronics & Information Technology (Meity) stated, "the press reports have appeared a day before the Monsoon session of Parliament. This cannot be a coincidence."
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