Pegasus: Greek Mythology, Turned Modern Technology

Written and Narrated by Ethan Hay

In ancient Greek mythology, one of the most beautiful creatures was Pegasus. (1) A winged horse that was the child of the Gorgon Medusa and the God of the sea, Poseidon, he would one day be tamed by another child of Poseidon named Bellerophon, before being stabled by Zeus. Sadly, his name has once again popped up, but not for the appreciation of a beautiful myth, but rather, it has been perverted and is now the name of a spyware.

The Pegasus software was developed by the Israeli cyber arms technology firm NSO (2) Group Technologies. NSO stands for the names of the founders, Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie, and Shalev Hulio, of which Lavie and Hulio are the only ones who are on the company’s board (3) of directors. The company was founded in 2010, and merged with the Bulgarian surveillance firm, Circles, (4) in 2014, which greatly increased the clientele of NSO, giving them connections directly to the governments of twenty-five countries (5) around the world. NSO was bought by the American private equity firm, Francisco Partners, (6) in 2014. It was put up for sale (7) in 2017. A majority of the shares were bought back by two of the founders, Lavie and Hulio who had partnered with London based private equity firm, Novalpina (8) Capital, for one billion dollars in 2019. (9) 

Now, to the heart of the matter. What is the Pegasus spyware? Well, in summary, it’s a software that is used to spy on people. It is a Trojan (10) horse (lots of ancient Greece references) virus. What that means is that it infects devices by disguising itself as a legitimate software that people can download. Shalev Hulio actually described the software as something that could be sent ‘flying (11) through the air’ to infect devices, and infect it. Amnesty International has reported that it now has been able to infect Android devices and iOS’s all the way up to iOS 14.6. (12) It has also been able to gather (13) information from apps like iMessage, Viber, Facebook, Gmail, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Skype.

Pegasus was the software that was used by the Saudi Arabian government to spy on dissident and journalist, Jamal Kashoggi (14) before his death. The software’s use was first discovered in 2016 when United Arab Emirates human rights activist, Ahmed Monsoor. (15) He received a message with a link attached that promised to supply him with secret information regarding brutality taking place within UAE prisons. While the exact timeline for when the software was developed is unknown, it has reportedly been in use since 2012. One of the first users was former Panamanian President, Ricardo Martinelli. (16) There have also been reports of the possibility that the Indian (17) government purchased the software. It is also being used by the Mexican cartels (18) to target any journalist or politician who dares to speak out against them. In fact, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, (19) was so concerned about the situation, that he changed the phone he was using, after a report of a potential hacking. He was among fourteen (20) heads of state who were reportedly under Pegasus surveillance. He is now calling for the Israeli (21) government to launch an investigation. NSO has said that they are not responsible for any of the hacks that have taken place.

The desire to protect and preserve the freedoms of everyday men and women across the world continues to grow. Especially as the true nature of government bureaucrats and technology companies continue to be exposed. As is the case for NSO and the all-powerful master of marketing fear, Anthony Fauci. Freedom is a fragile thing, and we cannot stand idly by as it is taken apart piece by piece. It is time that the immortal words of Edmund Burke become the creed by which all freedom loving people live, ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.’ Let us stand and do something.