Move over Pegasus, Hermit is new spyware to watch for dissent

The malicious Android app is spread through SMS. The user fails to distinguish between a legitimate app and a spyware and downloads it inadvertently

A blog post stated that 'Hermit' is developed by Italian spyware vendor RCS Lab and Tykelab Srl, a telecommunications solutions company. | Representational image

A new spyware, Hermit, which operates on Android operating system, is doing the rounds with several cases of mobile spying being reported from Kazakhstan, Syria and Italy of late.

Reports say that Israeli software Pegasus is history and Hermit is the latest tool in the hands of governments to keep an eye on elements that may disrupt their scheme of things. On target are journalists, government officials, top-notch business heads, activists and academics.

Media reports say that Hermit gets installed in the target’s Android mobile system via an SMS. The first such case was spotted in Kazakhstan in April. It is likely that the Kazakh government used the latest spyware to stifle protests against the government.

Reports suggest that Hermit was employed to keep an eye on some important persons in Kurdish region of Syria as well as Italy during an anti-corruption probe.

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Lookout researcher Paul Shunk said, “Hermit checks the Android version of the device running the app at various times in order to adapt its behavior to the version of the operating system, it stands out from other app-based spyware.”

A blog post stated that ‘Hermit’ is developed by Italian spyware vendor RCS Lab and Tykelab Srl, a telecommunications solutions company.

The malicious Android app is spread through SMS. The user fails to distinguish between a legitimate app and a spyware. The Hermit apes apps from telecoms companies and smartphone brands like Samsung and Oppo. The unsuspecting user downloads the malware on his/her phone. Lookout said that it was unable to spot an iOS spyware of similar nature.

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