According to various reports from Reuters and The Washington Post, Apple warned many U.S. Embassy and State Department employees that their iPhones may have been targeted by an unknown assailant employing state-sponsored spyware manufactured by the controversial Israeli business NSO Group.
At least 11 U.S. Embassy workers stationed in Uganda or working on Uganda-related problems are claimed to have been targeted using iPhones with international phone numbers, while the identity of the threat actors behind the intrusions, as well as the nature of the material sought, is still unknown.
NSO Group created Pegasus, a military-grade spyware that allows its government clients to discreetly access files and images, listen in on conversations, and track their victims’ whereabouts. Pegasus infects iPhones and Android devices through zero-click exploits transmitted through messaging applications, which do not require targets to click links or take any other action, but are by default banned from working on U.S. phone numbers.
It’s important that the corporation has long claimed that it exclusively sells its products to government law enforcement and intelligence agencies to help in the monitoring of security threats and the surveillance of terrorists and criminals. However, evidence accumulated over time has exposed a systematic use of the technology to spy on human rights activists, journalists, and politicians in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Mexico, and other countries.
A “Threat Notification” banner will be shown at the top of the page when impacted users log into their accounts on appleid.apple[.]com, and the alerts will be issued to affected users through email and iMessage to the addresses and phone numbers connected with their Apple IDs.
Apple and Meta have launched a legal assault on the corporation, accusing it of illegally hacking its consumers by using previously unknown security holes in iOS and the end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp messaging service. In addition, Apple stated that it has begun sending threat notifications.
Finally , Apple’s software engineering director Craig Federighi has stated, “State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technology without effective accountability. It’s time for it to change.”
The facts also coincide with a piece in The Wall Street Journal detailing US plans to work with over 100 countries to restrict the transfer of surveillance software to authoritarian governments that use it to undermine human rights. The new program is not likely to include China or Russia.