The Flight Of Pegasus Over Armenia

Samvel Martirosyan

Media researcher

On November 24, many people received a letter from Apple notifying them that they had been targeted by a state hacking team. Armenian citizens also received such letters.

The letter does not mention what kind of attack it was and what kind of hackers the country is talking about. It is only known that such letters were received by people who either play an important role in the public and political processes of Armenia or are employees of an important structure.

We know about two dozen people who received such a warning from Apple. Some of them are in opposition, some represent or have recently represented different branches of government.

International developments in recent months, as well as studies, show that the tool of the attack could be a malicious program that infects Pegasus cell phones, a virus.

On November 23, Apple announced that it had filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group, which produces Pegasus, in order to prevent the abuse of state-sponsored spyware.

Two people have already publicly announced that they have received such letters. One is the former director of the National Security Service and now the leader of the “I have honor” opposition force, Arthur Vanetsyan. The other is Davit Sanasaryan. According to information security expert Ruben Muradyan, he discovered Pegasus in Armenia two months ago.

The letter received by Arthur Vanetsyan. Photo from Vanetsyan’s Facebook post

Given the list of possible infections and the fact that everyone received the warning letter at the same time, it can be assumed that Apple could include several waves of attacks in the warning campaign in one stage.

It is very possible that we are dealing with several cases during which, for example, infections could have external and internal political reasons. Because all the infected people could hardly be interesting to one attacker.

What is Pegasus?

Pegasus is a mobile phone infection program produced by the Israeli NSO Group and sold in the international market for the intelligence activities of various government agencies. The program allows you to fully track the target via the infected phone, receiving almost all the information available on the smartphone.

It is assumed that law enforcement agencies should use Pegasus within the law. Revelations in recent months have shown that it has been used in dozens of countries to track down opposition figures, journalists and other inconvenient individuals.

Moreover, there are reports that during the war, in 2020, Pegasus was used against Armenian officials, which suggests that the attacks could have been carried out by Azerbaijani or Turkish special services.

Samvel Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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