Between October 26 and November 3, WhatsApp downloads tripped by a staggering 80 % in India from the previous nine-day period, according to data sourced from mobile analytics and intelligence firm Sensor Tower. The number between October 17 and 25, the week preceding the WhatsApp-NSO Group issue, was 8.9 million. Between October 26 and November 3, it was 1.8 mn.
WhatsApp announced on October 29 that it would sue NSO Group for selling its software, Pegasus, which has the ability to compromise a device and get access to all of a target’s data. The software exploited a loophole in WhatsApp's video calling feature that could let the buyer get access to a person's phone or device data.
In its legal complaint against NSO Group, WhatsApp said: “Pegasus was designed, in part, to intercept communications sent to and from a device, including communications over iMessage, Skype, Telegram, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and others.”
The government asked WhatsApp to explain the breach of privacy and it has also come under some heat for not answering if any of its agencies bought Pegasus software. Activists and journalists were spied upon by using NSO Group’s spyware, including bureaucrats and journalists have moved to alternative messaging platforms such as Signal and Telegram.
Technology companies are constantly working to stay ahead of such challenges through updates and patches. According to WhatsApp, it stopped a sophisticated attack using NSO malicious software in May and subsequently alerted 1,400 users that they may have been affected. Citizen Lab has been researching the use of hacking technologies and their manufacturers for quite sometime now.