May 22, 2024

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Apple: Message for iPhone users – “You are the target of a mercenary spyware attack”

Apple: Message for iPhone users – “You are the target of a mercenary spyware attack”

Apple sent notifications to iPhone users in 92 countries on Wednesday, warning them that they could be vulnerable to mercenary spyware attacks.

The company sent alerts to people in 92 countries at 12 noon PT on Wednesday. It did not reveal the identities of the attackers or the countries in which users received the alerts.

“Apple has discovered that you have been targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is attempting to remotely compromise an iPhone associated with the Apple ID -xxx-,” it wrote in the warning to affected customers.

“This attack will likely target you specifically because of who you are or what you are doing,” Apple added in the text, a copy of which was reviewed by news site TechCrunch: “While it is never possible to achieve absolute certainty when such attacks are detected, Apple has High confidence in this warning – please take it seriously.” On news from the field of technology.

The iPhone maker sends out such alerts several times a year, and has notified users of such threats in more than 150 countries since 2021, according to an updated Apple support page.

With… Pegasus software

It also issued a similar warning to a number of journalists and politicians in India last October. Later, the non-profit advocacy group Amnesty International reported that it had found Pegasus (also known in Greece) spyware by Israeli spyware maker NSO Group on the iPhones of prominent journalists in India. (Users in India are among those who received Apple's latest threat alerts, according to people familiar with the matter.)

The spyware alerts come at a time when many countries are preparing to hold elections. In recent months, several technology companies have warned of increased government efforts to influence the results of certain elections. However, Apple did not comment on their timing.

“We cannot provide further information about what prompted us to send you this notification, as this may help mercenary spyware attackers modify their behavior to avoid detection in the future,” the company told affected customers.

It previously described the attackers as “state sponsored,” but replaced all such references with “spyware attacks for hire.”

“Mercenary spyware attacks, such as those using NSO Group's Pegasus, are extremely rare and far more sophisticated than the activity of ordinary cybercriminals or consumer malware,” the advisory adds to clients.

Apple has stated that it relies only on “internal threat intelligence and research to detect such attacks” and also that “although our investigations can never achieve absolute certainty, Apple's Threat Alerts are high-confidence alerts that a user has been targeted.” “Individually carried out by a mercenary spyware attack should be taken seriously.”