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Apple Warns Users of Spyware Threats in 92 Countries including India



Apple iPhone security

Apple has alerted users in India and 91 other countries about potential spyware threats, warning them of attempted remote compromises targeting iPhones. In a recent notification email seen by Reuters, Apple dropped the term “state-sponsored” used in previous alerts, opting instead to describe the threats as “mercenary spyware attacks.”

The email notification informed users that Apple had discovered attempts to remotely compromise their iPhones, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation and the need for vigilance. While Apple previously used the term “state-sponsored attackers” in its threat notifications, the updated language now refers to attackers associated with “mercenary spyware,” a term encompassing attacks historically linked to state actors and private companies, including the notorious Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO Group.

This shift in terminology by Apple comes amidst reported pressure from the Indian government to refrain from directly implicating state actors in such cyber intrusions. The removal of “state-sponsored” from Apple’s threat descriptions follows allegations by Indian opposition politicians that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to hack their mobile phones, particularly after Apple’s warnings in October last year regarding “state-sponsored” attacks.

It is not known whether the Indian Government did tell Apple to drop the terminology from their alerts but it is clear that Apple did not allow the Indian Government access to a locked iPhone of Delhi CM who is currently in jail for his alleged involvement in the liquor policy scam in New Delhi during the pandemic. The opposition does blame the government for that, as always.

The use of spyware, particularly tools like Pegasus, has raised significant concerns globally due to their invasive capabilities, which allow attackers to access a wide range of personal data stored on smartphones, including messages, call logs, and location information. Apple’s alerts highlight the ongoing threat posed by such sophisticated surveillance tools and the need for users to remain vigilant about potential cyber threats.

The NSO Group, developers of Pegasus, has faced scrutiny and legal challenges over the use of its software by various governments for surveillance purposes, raising broader questions about the ethical implications of spyware technologies and their impact on user privacy.

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