Apple Patches Exploit Attributed to Pegasus

Apple Patches Exploit Attributed to Pegasus

Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the security issue was exploited to plant spyware on a Saudi activist’s iPhone. They said they had high confidence that the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, Israel’s NSO Group, was behind that attack.

Apple released a critical software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers said could allow hackers to directly infect iPhones and other Apple devices without any user action.

The previously unknown vulnerability affected all major Apple devices  iPhones, Macs and Apple Watches, the researchers said. NSO Group responded with a one-sentence statement saying it will continue providing tools for fighting terror and crime.

It was the first time a so-called “zero-click” exploit — one that doesn’t require users to click on suspect links or open infected files — has been caught and analysed, the researchers said. They found the malicious code on September 7 and immediately alerted Apple. The targeted activist asked to remain anonymous, they said.
“We’re not necessarily attributing this attack to the Saudi government,” said researcher Bill Marczak.
Citizen Lab previously found evidence of zero-click exploits being used to hack into the phones of al-Jazeera journalists and other targets, but hasn’t previously seen the malicious code itself.
Although security experts say that average iPhone, iPad and Mac user generally need not worry — such attacks tend to be limited to specific targets — the discovery still alarmed security professionals.
Malicious image files were transmitted to the activist’s phone via the iMessage instant-messaging app before it was hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which opens a phone to eavesdropping and remote data theft, Marczak said.
It was discovered during a second examination of the phone, which forensics showed had been infected in March. He said the malicious file causes devices to crash.
Citizen Lab says the case reveals, once again, that NSO Group is allowing its spyware to be used against ordinary civilians.
In a blog post, Apple said it was issuing a security update for iPhones and iPads because a “maliciously crafted” PDF file could lead to them being hacked. It said it was aware that the issue may have been exploited and cited Citizen Lab.
In a subsequent statement, Apple security chief Ivan Krstic commended Citizen Lab and said such exploits “are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.”
He noted, as he has in the past, that such exploits typically cost millions of dollars to develop and often have a short shelf life. Apple didn’t respond to questions regarding whether this was the first time it had patched a zero-click vulnerability.
Users should get alerts on their iPhones prompting them to update the phone’s iOS software. Those who want to jump the gun can go into the phone settings, click “General” then “Software Update,” and trigger the patch update directly.
Citizen Lab called the iMessage exploit FORCEDENTRY and said it was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices. It urged people to immediately install security updates.
Researcher John Scott-Railton said the news highlights the importance of securing popular messaging apps against such attacks.
“Chat apps are increasingly becoming a major way that nation-states and mercenary hackers are gaining access to phones,” he said. “And it’s why it’s so important that companies focus on making sure that they are as locked down as possible.”
The researchers said it also undermines NSO Group’s claims that it only sells its spyware to law enforcement officials for use against criminals and terrorists and audits its customers to ensure it’s not abused.
“If Pegasus was only being used against criminals and terrorists, we never would have found this stuff,” said Marczak.
Facebook’s WhatsApp was also allegedly targeted by an NSO zero-click exploit. In October 2019, Facebook sued NSO in US federal court for allegedly targeting some 1,400 users of the encrypted messaging service with spyware.
In July, a global media consortium published a damning report on how clients of NSO Group have been spying for years on journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, and people close to them, with the hacker-for-hire group directly involved in the targeting.
Amnesty International said it confirmed 37 successful Pegasus infections based on a leaked targeting list whose origin was not disclosed.
One case involved the fiancee of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA attributed the murder to the Saudi government.
The recent revelations also prompted calls for an investigation into whether Hungary’s right-wing government used Pegasus to secretly monitor critical journalists, lawyers and business figures. India’s parliament also erupted in protests as opposition lawmakers accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using NSO Groups’ product to spy on political opponents and others.
France is also trying to get to the bottom of allegations that President Emmanuel Macron and members of his government may have been targeted in 2019 by an unidentified Moroccan security service using Pegasus.
Morocco, a key French ally, denied those reports and is taking legal action to counter allegations implicating the North African kingdom in the spyware scandal.

Disclaimer: If you need to edit or update this news from compsmag then kindly contact us Learn more

For Latest News Follow us on Google News


Latest Headlines
  • Show all
  • Trending News
  • Popular By week
Grand Tactician, a Civil War game set in the United States, is now available in Early Access
Grand Tactician, a Civil War game set in the United States, is now available in Early Access
version 1.0 of Grand Tactician adds two more campaign starts and six new historical real-time battles to fight. There are other upgrades to look forward to ...
Android introduces new features to improve smartphone use
Android introduces new features to improve smartphone use
Accessibility is one of the main themes in Google’s latest Android features. Android adds new features to boost smartphone accessibility The new features ...
Google Pixel 4a vs Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Google Pixel 4a vs Apple iPhone 13 Mini
The Pixel 4a isn’t exactly a high-end phone. It’s much more affordable than the iPhone 13 Mini, but the two are worth comparing, that’s for sure. The Pixel ...
Hey Google, if Apple and Samsung can keep small phones alive, why can’t you?
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra might actually be the Note 22 Ultra
Twitter to claim that the Galaxy S will “become” the new Galaxy Note. He did not reveal additional details on Twitter other than to say that a design change ...
Unreleased MacBook Pro details were just leaked by Apple itself
Unreleased MacBook Pro details were just leaked by Apple itself
The display also represents a big update for the 2021 MacBook Pro series. While Apple already sells a 16-inch Intel-based MacBook Pro, it never launched a ...
GTA 3, Vice City & San Andreas Remastered For Switch, PS5, Xbox
GTA Trilogy Remaster Seems More Likely After Recent Rumor
For the past year, rumors have swirled on Twitter, Reddit, and various message boards that Rockstar is working on remakes or remasters of classic, PS2-era ...
Best Soundbar Deal September 2021
Is Apple Really Working on a Foldable iPhone? When Is It Coming?
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has reliable insight into Apple’s plans, said that development on a foldable ‌iPhone‌ has not yet kicked off, but Apple ...
New rumor claims the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will have an S Pen slot
Massive Galaxy S22 Ultra leak reveals a true Note successor could be on the way
However, the most exciting part is that the renders show that the device will include a dedicated slot for an S Pen, suggesting that Samsung is preparing to ...
Brian Laundrie left home without his wallet or cell phone, according to his attorney
Brian Laundrie left home without his wallet or cell phone, according to his attorney
TAMPA (WFLA) – The Laundrie family’s attorney Steven Bertolino announced on Friday that Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito’s fiance left his family house on Sept. ...
The largest Xbox Series X installation sizes that will completely fill your hard drive
The largest Xbox Series X installation sizes that will completely fill your hard drive
If you want to know which games will claim the most room on your console, we’ve put together a list of the biggest Xbox Series X install sizes in descending ...
Show next
Compsmag - Latest News from tech, business and health
Logo