Amnesty International accuses governments around the world of using NSO Group’s Pegasus iPhone hacking tool to illegally spy on journalists and human rights defenders. Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture condemns this type of hacking, but also says that such attacks “are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.”
Apple says relax
Pegasus can be used to harvest data from iOS devices, and Apple has been unable to find a way to block it. It’s what’s called a zero-click attack. Reportedly, all that’s necessary to be hacked is to receive a text.
But Ivan Krstić, who leads Apple’s software security efforts, points out that average iPhone users are in no danger from Pegasus.
“For over a decade, Apple has led the industry in security innovation and, as a result, security researchers agree iPhone is the safest, most secure consumer mobile device on the market,” Krstić said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals. While that means they are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users, we continue to work tirelessly to defend all our customers, and we are constantly adding new protections for their devices and data.”
The best thing average iPhone users can do to prevent their iPhone from being hacked is install every iOS update as soon as possible. And this will get easier with iOS 15, as it will give users the option to install security updates without also installing new features.
Pegasus is supposed to be a crime-fighting tool
NSO Group markets Pegasus as a tool for governments to use for criminal investigations. It’s necessary because Apple does its best to provide privacy for all, even against law enforcement. This policy once caused a standoff between Apple and the FBI after Cupertino refused to help unlock the iPhone of a suspected terrorist.
Amnesty International now says Pegasus is being abused. The human rights organization claims it has “uncovered widespread, persistent and ongoing unlawful surveillance and human rights abuses perpetrated using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.”
Krstić said in his statement, “Apple unequivocally condemns cyberattacks against journalists, human rights activists, and others seeking to make the world a better place.”