The American Jonathan Scott, founder of the Haktree company and an expert in hacking devices with an Internet connection, has questioned the laboratory’s report. “I’m glad people are finally starting to question Citizen Lab and the nonsense it’s spouting. We need to stop spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt and stop spyware samples. For 11 years, the public has not had a single test of Pegasus spyware by Citizen Lab”, Scott assured, responding to the thread published on the social network by the Spanish José Javier Olivas, a researcher at the Department of Political Science and the Administration of the National University of Distance Education (UNED).
Olivas has questioned whether Elies Campo, the telecommunications engineer linked to the Catalan independence movement, has deliberately distorted the Citizen Lab report that revealed the alleged espionage: “Could Campo or another member of the Information Technology team behind Tsunami Democràtic have manufactured some infections? The engineer has argued his doubts in the concept of false positive: although he seems so, the analyzed mobile phone has not been hacked to be spied on.
How does Pegasus work?
Pegasus is a program that is mainly used by governments and authorized authorities to enter devices and install modules in the phone’s internal memory to spy on its victims. It can be entered through WhatsApp, Facebook, SMS and calls.
Inside the device, the Israeli ‘software’ tracks all of the victim’s data (including sensitive ones). You can track messages from almost all apps on a smartphone, use the recorder, take screenshots, and even track the location of the device’s owner and who they’ve met.
This spyware leaves no trace of its activity. It hides itself in the temporary memory of the device so that the user cannot identify it during or after its cyberattack. When the phone turns off, Pegasus disappears without a trace. The only thing that the user can notice on his device, and that may be due to other reasons, is that his processor is slower, that it consumes more battery and that some data has disappeared without being deleted by himself.
Elies Campo’s laboratory
Citizen Lab was founded in 2001 by Ronald Deibert, a professor of political science, philosopher, and professor of international relations at the University of Toronto. The Ford Foundation contacted him to offer him a “counterespionage in favor of global civil society” project. The idea was launched at the university with the foundation’s initial grant of $250,000.
The lab declares itself “independent of government and corporate interests” and has received funding from the George Soros Open Society Foundations, the Hewlett Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Canadian International Development Research Center , among others.
Currently, 25 researchers work full time, experts who “could earn five or six times more in the private sector,” Deibert explained in an AP interview. It also has the services of about half a dozen associates and academics. Elies Campo Cid, who wrote the Catalangate report, falls into the latter category.