Apple iPhone Hacked Using Pegasus Spyware from Israel’s NSO Group

An iPhone belonging to a staffer at a Washington-based civil society organization was hacked remotely with spyware created by Israel’s NSO Group.

| Updated on: Sep 09 2023, 06:40 IST
Top 5 Apple Mail alternatives: Upgrade your email experience with these apps
1/7 Are you an Apple user who's not too thrilled with the Mail app's performance and old-fashioned features? Well, you are not alone! While many people find Apple's email app acceptable enough, there are other options that can make your emailing much easier. (Apple)
image caption
2/7 These alternatives to Apple Mail offer more features, and a simpler user experience. So, if you have been feeling a bit let down by Apple Mail, don't worry! There are some excellent alternatives that can really step up your email game. Let's explore these top 5 Apple Mail alternatives.  (Pexels)
image caption
3/7 1. Canary Mail: Canary Mail is an easy-to-use email client for Mac users. It recently introduced an AI feature called Inbox CoPilot, which helps you compose emails based on context or tone. It can also answer questions like your scheduled meetings for the week or the delivery status of your Amazon order. Other features include read receipts, 1-click unsubscribe, snooze, and encryption. ( Canary Mail)
image caption
4/7 2. Outlook: Microsoft Outlook is a robust alternative to Apple Mail for Mac users. It syncs seamlessly with Google and iCloud accounts, offering features like a focused inbox to prioritise important emails. Outlook also integrates with other Microsoft apps like OneNote and Teams, making it a comprehensive productivity tool. (Microsoft)
image caption
5/7 3. Airmail: Airmail is a third-party email app that supports major email accounts and integrates with various third-party apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Trello. It offers extensive customization options, including snoozing emails and muting/blocking senders. A lightweight built-in to-do list helps you stay organised. (Airmail,com)
image caption
6/7 4. Spark: Developed by Readdle, Spark stands out with its smart inbox that categorises emails for you. It offers productivity features like snooze, send later, and email follow-up reminders. Swipe actions enable quick actions on emails, such as sending them to task managers like Todoist. ( Spark)
image caption
7/7 5. Thunderbird: Mozilla Thunderbird is an open-source email client that's free and available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. While its interface may seem dated, it offers robust organisational tools like folders, tags, flags, and automation rules. Thunderbird also supports spam scanning, remote image blocking, and encryption through add-ons, allowing for customization and integration with third-party services. (Pexels)
View all Images
The hack was discovered last week and reported to Apple Inc., which moved quickly to investigate and patch the breach. (Unsplash)

An iPhone belonging to a staffer at a Washington-based civil society organization was hacked remotely with spyware created by Israel's NSO Group.

The hack was discovered last week and reported to Apple Inc., which moved quickly to investigate and patch the breach, according to John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher with Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School.

NSO Group has been sanctioned by the US since 2021 due to its Pegasus hacking tool, which has been used by some governments to target journalists and dissidents beyond their borders. It is a so-called zero-click hack, in which the user doesn't need to click on a link in order for malware to install software that can turn phones into real-time surveillance devices.

“The gravity of the attack, which is a zero click, combined with the fact that it was being actively used in the wild against civil society makes it clear that this is the kind of thing that needs to be taken really seriously and prioritized, and we're glad that Apple did that,” Scott-Railton said in an interview.

Citizen Lab called the exploit chain BLASTPASS in a blog post on Thursday, and said it was capable of compromising iPhones running the latest version of Apple's operating system without any interaction from the victim. A spokesperson for Apple confirmed the account.

“We are unable to respond to any allegations that do not include any supporting research,” a spokesperson forNSO Group said. The company has previously said Pegasus doesn't work on phone numbers with the 1 county code used in the US and Canada.

Citizen Lab did not identify the targeted individual or organization. Earlier this year, the research group found that NSO Group had used at least three zero-click methods to hack civil society groups, and the company's tools have been linked to spying on prominent figures in Armenia, including a United Nations official.

In reporting the latest breach, Citizen Lab recommended “everyone who may face increased risk because of who they are or what they do to enable Lockdown Mode” on their devices. Lockdown Mode severely restricts apps and features on a person's phone — for example blocking most message attachments.

The report comes as NSO Group has faced increased scrutiny around the world. On Thursday, Poland's Senate published the results of an investigation into the use of Pegasus during the 2019 parliamentary elections that found violations of constitutional standards and said the vote was not fair due to the use of the spyware.

In August, the Israeli government announced that it had set up a commission to investigate whether police misused spyware, including applications made by NSO Group, in criminal investigations.

(Updates with additional information from NSO Group in sixth paragraph. A previous version of the story corrected the headline to remove that it was a US phone.)

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 09 Sep, 06:40 IST
keep up with tech