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Monday, August 2, 2021
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iPhones vulnerable to Pegasus-type breaches, concedes Apple

Apple says the spy tech is used to target specific individuals and is not a threat to a majority of its users

Even as the debate over phone tapping via Pegasus continues in and around the Parliament, global giant Apple has conceded that iPhones are vulnerable to highly sophisticated Pegasus-type breaches.

While terming the Israeli-made spy tech “highly sophisticated” which cost millions of dollars to develop and are used to target specific individuals, the company in a statement said that such breaches are not a threat to a majority of its users and that the US major is adding new protections for its devices and to safeguard the data on them.

“Apple unequivocally condemns cyberattacks against journalists, human rights activists, and others seeking to make the world a better place. 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,” Ivan Krstić, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, said in a statement.

The tech giant’s remarks follow recent reports that claimed that journalists of over 16 media outlets including Indian and international publications along with human rights activists, lawyers and politicians all over the world have been snooped on by “authoritarian governments” using hacking software supplied by the Israeli’s NSO Group, according to findings by an investigation.

The investigation was conducted by the Guardian and 16 other media outlets. The Guardian report specifically uses the term “authoritarian governments” as being behind the snooping.

The new findings also hint at widespread and continuing abuse of NSO’s hacking spyware Pegasus. Pegasus infects Android devices and iPhones, giving operators access to messages, photos and emails. It can also record calls and secretly activate microphones, reports say.

A forensic methodology report by Amnesty claims that Apple’s iPhone is the easiest to snoop on using the Pegasus software. The leaked database shows that iPhones running iOS 14.6 contain a zero-click iMessage exploit and this exploit could have been used to install Pegasus software on the iPhone devices of the targeted entities.

However, the Union government denied any snooping charges saying “No unauthorised interception by government agencies.” IT and Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday said that with several checks and balances being in place, “any sort of illegal surveillance” by unauthorised persons is not possible in India.

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