Uncovering the Invisible War: Pegasus Spyware’s Role in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

May 25, 2023

In the shadows of the physical battlegrounds, a digital war rages on, unseen but equally impactful. A recent investigation has brought to light the insidious use of Pegasus spyware in the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, marking a chilling evolution in warfare tactics.

The Investigation’s Findings A joint effort by Access Now, CyberHUB-AM, the Citizen Lab, Amnesty International’s Security Lab, and independent researcher Ruben Muradyan has uncovered a series of targeted cyber-attacks against Armenian civil society members. The victims, including a former Human Rights Defender, journalists from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Armenian Service, a United Nations official, and other prominent figures, were found to have their Apple devices compromised by the notorious Pegasus spyware.

Pegasus: A Tool of War Developed by NSO Group, Pegasus has been infamously known for its ability to infiltrate smartphones, turning them into surveillance devices. In this context, it has been used to monitor and potentially disrupt the activities of individuals directly involved in the conflict’s discourse and resolution efforts.

The Timeline of Attacks The cyber-attacks spanned from October 2020 to December 2022, a period marked by heightened tensions and military engagements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The forensic analysis revealed the use of sophisticated exploits like PWNYOURHOME, FINDMYPWN, FORCEDENTRY, and KISMET, indicating a high level of technical prowess behind the operations.

The Implications for Global Security This incident is not just a regional concern but a global one. The use of Pegasus in an international war context sets a precedent that could redefine the rules of engagement, extending the battlefield into the digital realm. It underscores the urgent need for international regulations to govern the deployment of such invasive technologies.

A Call to Action As we navigate this new era of digital warfare, it is imperative for global stakeholders to come together and disarm the threat of spyware. The sanctity of privacy, freedom of expression, and the safety of civil society must be upheld, even amidst the chaos of conflict.

For a more in-depth analysis, readers are encouraged to explore the full report available at Access Now.