Apple sends iPhone hack warning to Indian opposition leader; walks a difficult line

Apple sent warnings about iPhone hacking to the leader of India's main opposition party, as well as other politicians opposed to Narendra Modi's party, government – puts Apple is in a potentially delicate position.

The security researcher was also alerted and shared a copy of the warning message sent to him, which advised Apple to enable Lockdown Mode …

iPhone spyware

Although iPhones are designed with security and privacy in mind, the enormous complexity of the chips' code A-series and iOS means there are always zero-day vulnerabilities – flaws that Apple doesn't know about – waiting to be discovered.

Discovering and exploiting them requires huge resources: spy companies pay hackers a million dollars or more for alerting them to new vulnerabilities that can be exploited. The most famous iPhone spyware is NSO's Pegasus, and Paragon's Graphite is another example.

The most notable feature of Pegasus and Graphite is that they use zero-click attacks, where you don't have to trick the user into clicking a link or visiting a website – just receive a carefully crafted iMessage without interacting with them. in any case, this is enough to compromise the phone. The spyware then gives the attacker access to virtually everything on it, including messages, email, photos, contacts and location.

Both the US government and Apple are fighting back. The US banned the import and use of Pegasus, and Apple spent two years actively warning those it believed were victims.

Indian opposition leader sent iPhone hack warning

TechCrunch reports that Apple sent an iPhone hack warning to Rahul Gandhi, leader of India's main opposition party. Others were additional warnings sent.

Apple has warned more than half a dozen Indian lawmakers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's main opposition that their iPhones were the target of state-sponsored attacks, the men said Tuesday, in a remarkable turn of events just months before the South Asian country's general election. .

Rahul Gandhi, Indian opposition leader, said at a media briefing on Tuesday that his team had received the said warning from Apple. Shashi Tharoor, a key figure of the Congress party; Akhilesh Yadav, chief of the Samajwadi Party; Mahua Moitra, national spokesperson of the All India Trinamool Congress; Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena, a party with significant influence in Maharashtra, said they too had been notified by Apple of a potential attack on their iPhone.

Others notified include two prominent political figures. journalists.

Apple is in a delicate position

Price and work hacking an iPhone in this way means that these attacks are almost exclusively carried out by state actors, i.e. governments.

In this case, the obvious suspect is the Indian government, seeking to spy on opposition politicians and others who may have knowledge of plans for the upcoming election campaign.

As with China, Apple is relying on close cooperation with the Indian government to facilitate the country's rapidly growing iPhone production. CEO Tim Cook has met personally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi several times.

Some of the negotiations were extremely lengthy and complex – especially those related to opening Apple Stores in the country – and the Cupertino company would not want do anything that might disrupt this relationship.

At the same time, she cannot sit back and do nothing when she learns that the Indian government is hacking the iPhone.

The company walked a delicate line, describing the attacks as state-sponsored without naming the state and trying to say that this may be incorrect.

State-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks are evolving over time. Detection of such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals, which are often imperfect and incomplete. It is possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false or that some attacks will not be detected. We cannot provide information about what causes us to send threat notifications because this could help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behavior to avoid detection in the future.

A security researcher also received an alert

A mobile security researcher who tweets under the name peterpan0927 also received the same alert from Apple. which he shared on Twitter. In it, Apple advises him to turn on the lock mode.

Photo: Shubham Sharma/Unsplash

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