Big Brother is watching. No, seriously

Several heads of state, including our very own President Cyril Ramaphosa, have been targeted by spies, we heard last week. 😳 The revelations emerged thanks to the Pegasus project, an international investigative journalism initiative exposing authoritarian governments for spying on journalists, activists, politicians and business people. The report was based on a leaked spy report from 2020 and revealed that the spyware can read messages, record phone calls, see pictures and more. It’s scandalous and, frankly, scary. 

The spyware is sold by Israeli technology firm NSO Group. News24 reported that Ramaphosa was of special interest to Rwanda. We don’t know why yet, but we do know Rwanda’s increasingly dictatorial president, Paul Kagame, has been accused of spying on his opponents across the world, many of whom disappear or turn up dead. His former spy chief was famously found dead, possibly strangled, in a South African hotel in 2014. So, just to be clear, Ramaphosa is not spying on us, but there is no way of knowing if anyone else is: the software sneakily installs on your mobile device if you click on a link in a suspicious message or answer a phone call. It’s that easy. Experts say if you think you are a potential target, rebooting your phone frequently (switching it on and off) could “in theory” wipe off the software if it is stored in your phone’s memory. 😀

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 29 July 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.