In a surprise move last week, Apple asked all the iPhone and iPad users to install the iOS 9.3.5 security update to avoid being infected by the Pegasus spyware. Pegasus has been called the “most powerful smartphone spyware ever.” Since it installs itself in the kernel of the operating system, it can intercept conversations even before they are encrypted. Hackers can use it to access your texts, photos, and hardware features like the camera and microphone.

iPhone 7
Image Credit: Apple Inc.

 

Detecting Pegasus on your device

Here’s how to see whether your iOS device – both jailbroken and non-jailbroken- is infected with Pegasus spyware. First, download and install the Lookout app. It will require you to register for an account.

For non-jailbroken devices

You’ll see “Secure” under the “Security” section if your device is not infected with Pegasus or any other spyware. But if you see “Warning” or “Caution” instead of Secure, tap on Security and go to System Advisor. If your device is infected, you shall see the message, “Your iPhone has been compromised. Lookout has detected Pegasus threat on your device.”

For jailbroken devices

Jailbroken iPhones and iPads will see “Warning” or “Caution” under the Security section as your device is jailbroken. Go to Security > System Advisor and you should see the warning, “Your iPhone has been jailbroken.” In case your device is infected with Pegasus, it would show the following message: “Your iPhone has been compromised. Lookout has detected Pegasus threat on your device.”

Removing the Pegasus spyware

Pegasus affects both jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices. Here’s how to get rid of the spyware:

For non-jailbroken devices

It’s pretty easy. Simply upgrade your device to the latest iOS 9.3.5 that fixes the vulnerability exploited by the spyware. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to get the latest version of the iOS.

For jailbroken devices

It’s a little more complicated if you have jailbroken your device and want to remain jailbroken. If your iPhone or iPad is infected with Pegasus, launch Cydia and add this repository as a new source: https://coolstar.org/publicrepo/. Next, search for Perl package and install it.

Now you also have to add this repository to Cydia: http://load.sh/cydia. Search for pgcheck and install it. Once you have installed both packages, perform a reboot and put your device back into jailbreak mode. When your iPhone or iPad reboots, the pgcheck package will run in the background. If it detects the Pegasus spyware, it will activate the Airplane Mode and remove the spyware.