iPhone users around the world warned they are specific target of spyware


Spyware warning
Mercenary spyware is being used against iPhones.
Photo: Antoni Shkraba/Pexels

Mercenary spyware is being used to target specific iPhone users in almost 100 countries. Apple reportedly sent warnings to these people on Wednesday.

This is different from general warnings that all computer users need to be careful about malware. The individuals warned Wednesday are being targeted — probably for political reasons.

iPhone users get targeted by mercenary spyware for political reasons

Mercenary spyware like Pegasus is supposedly created for law enforcement to use against terrorists and other criminals. However, it’s regularly used by unscrupulous governments to hack the smartphones of activists, politicians, journalists and other individuals.

TechCrunch reports, “Apple sent threat notifications to iPhone users in 92 countries on Wednesday, warning them that may have been targeted by mercenary spyware attacks.”

The text of the message says, according to TechCrunch:

“Apple detected that you are being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID [NAME]. This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it’s never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning — please take it seriously.

“We are unable to provide more information about what caused us to send you this notification, as that may help mercenary spyware attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future.”

The warnings are not unprecedented. They happen enough that there’s an Apple Support page explaining them.

How to protect against spyware

Anyone being specifically targeted by hackers should turn on iOS Lockdown Mode. It makes iPhones much more secure by limiting many types of functionality that can be exploited. That ranges from blocking attachments in the Messages app to disabling JavaScript in Safari and much more.

Lockdown Mode is far more than average users need, though. All we really should do is install iOS updates. Most of these include fixes for security holes used by spyware and other maleware.

Hackers simply love the people who urge iPhone users to not update their handset’s software because it might slow down performance. Of course, some of the people spreading the FUD are hackers who want easier access to iPhones.


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