The NSO Group Is Back With More State Sponsored Attacks On iOS Users

Researchers at Toronto’s Citizen Lab say they have found evidence that dozens of journalists had their iPhones silently compromised with spyware known to be used by nation states:

For more than the past year, London-based reporter Rania Dridi and at least 36 journalists, producers and executives working for the Al Jazeera news agency were targeted with a so-called “zero-click” attack that exploited a now-fixed vulnerability in Apple’s iMessage. The attack invisibly compromised the devices without having to trick the victims into opening a malicious link. Citizen Lab, the internet watchdog at the University of Toronto, was asked to investigate earlier this year after one of the victims, Al Jazeera investigative journalist Tamer Almisshal, suspected that his phone may have been hacked. In a technical report out Sunday and shared with TechCrunch, the researchers say they believe the journalists’ iPhones were infected with the Pegasus spyware, developed by Israel-based NSO Group. The researchers analyzed Almisshal’s iPhone and found it had between July and August connected to servers known to be used by NSO for delivering the Pegasus spyware. The device revealed a burst of network activity that suggests that the spyware may have been delivered silently over iMessage. Logs from the phone show that the spyware was likely able to secretly record the microphone and phone calls, take photos using the phone’s camera, access the victim’s passwords, and track the phone’s location.

This sounds like the exploit is similar to a jailbreak that was in iOS 13 that I wrote about recently. And we’ve seen this before. Specifically an exploit with iOS 9 which was also discovered by Citizen Lab and Apple had to rush out a patch to fix. And allegedly the NSO Group was behind that one as well. It will be interesting to see if Apple can do anything to stop this. In the meantime, this is major incentive for you to be on iOS 14.

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