How to check if your iPhone is infected by NSO’s Pegasus spyware
Worried by recent revelations of widespread political spying? Concerned that NSO’s Pegasus spyware might have infected your smartphone? It’s possible to find out, and while the method is a little technical, you don’t need the resources of a head of start to run the check.
Fortunately, Amnesty International has released a test program you can run on your Mac or PC to investigate whether your iPhone (or Android mobile) has been hacked by Pegasus.
Here’s how to find out if you’re being spied on.
Check for Pegasus
Mobile Verification Toolkit is an open-source Python program you run via the Terminal app. (Some familiarity with Terminal is recommended, or the process may be a little too challenging. Read How to use Terminal on Mac for some advice and tips.) You can grab MVT from GitHub, where you’ll also find instructions on installation and setup.
You’ll need to set up and run the program on the Mac (or Linux PC) that your iPhone (or Android phone) has been backed up to. It will search the backup for traces of Pegasus.
You’ll need to install libusb and Python 3 using Homebrew. The setup is probably the most challenging part of the process; once it’s all set up, TechCrunch says, the check only takes a minute or two to run.
It works differently depending on whether it’s dealing with iPhone or Android, and the developers note that Pegasus leaves clearer traces on iOS because of the way the spyware installs itself in that environment. Good news for us.
Is it likely I’ve been hacked?
That depends on who you are and what role you play in the worlds of politics and journalism. But for most of our readers the answer will be “very unlikely indeed”.
Pegasus is a tool used to monitor heads of state, activists and political journalists. It isn’t really worth NSO’s trouble to surveil the rest of us, but a bigger factor is that NSO and the various countries that use the spyware want to do everything they can to prevent Apple from hearing about the security flaws they exploit. The more infections they make, the more likely it is that Apple will patch the flaws.