For iOS, watchOS and macOS, Apple today released an emergency update that fixes a major security vulnerability.There is evidence that this vulnerability has been exploited by hackers since February of this year to install Pegasus spyware on devices without user intervention.
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On Monday, Apple pushed emergency updates for iOS, watchOS and macOS. The security patch was released in response to a large-scale vulnerability that allowed the operating system to be infected with spyware without user interaction.
Security researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto disclosed a vulnerability known as “ForcedEntry” to Apple last Tuesday. The team discovered this security vulnerability (CVE-2021-30860) while analyzing the iPhone of a Saudi activist.
This “zero-click vulnerability” takes advantage of a weakness of iMessages, that is, calling Apple’s image rendering library, which can infect devices without any user intervention. Researchers found that Apple’s three operating systems-iOS, watchOS and macOS-all have this vulnerability.
The spyware used is the controversial PegASUS application developed by the Israeli NSO Group. Citizen Lab said it believes this vulnerability has been in use since February, but does not know how many devices may be infected by spyware.
John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, told the New York Times that this spyware can do everything iPhone users can do on their devices, and more. Co-researcher Bill Marzak added that “the commercial spyware industry is going dark.”
NSO Group insists that it only sells its spyware to government law enforcement agencies in compliance with regional laws and regulations. However, the software has already appeared on the devices of non-criminals, including diplomats, activists, and journalists. In addition, the German National Police Agency was severely criticized last week for secretly purchasing and using Pegasus to monitor terrorists and members of organized crime.