The mass surveillance technology has truly come of age and now the governments just need to make a missed call to install an exploit link into the device of a person they want to bug and listen in. Indians break their heads over WhatsApp spy gate where an Israeli bug infected select users’ smartphones to access their personal details
The most popular mass surveillance programmed is 'PRISM' -- under which the US National Security Agency (NSA) collects user's personal communications from various US internet companies.
Its existence was leaked by NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew.
The NSA can use PRISM requests to target communications that were encrypted when they traveled across the internet backbone, to focus on stored data that telecommunication filtering systems discarded earlier, and to get access to data.
Between December 2012 and January 2013, 'Muscular' collected 181 million records but "Google has now strengthened security between their servers since then.Another tool called 'Optic Nerve' allowed secret access to Yahoo! webcam chats. In a six-month period, it spied on 1.8 million Yahoo! users and took one still image every five minutes of video per user.
"The operator can even turn on the phone's camera and microphone to capture activity in the phone's vicinity, and use the GPS function to track a target's location and movements," said Citizen Lab.The spyware can be placed on phones using multiple vectors, or means of infection. The WhatsApp exploit from May 2019 was one such vector.
In 2017, the wife of a murdered Mexican journalist was sent alarming text messages concerning her husband's murder, designed to trick her into clicking on a link and infecting her phone with the Pegasus spyware.