SAN FRANCISCO: Apple released a fix on Monday (Sep 13) for a weakness that can let the spyware at the heart of the Pegasus scandal infect devices without users even clicking on a malicious message or link.
The Pegasus software from Israeli firm NSO Group has been under intense scrutiny since an international media investigation claimed it was used to spy on the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even heads of state.
Researchers at Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog organisation in Canada, found the problem while analysing a Saudi activist’s phone that had been compromised with the code.
“We determined that the mercenary spyware company NSO Group used the vulnerability to remotely exploit and infect the latest Apple devices with the Pegasus spyware,” Citizen Lab wrote in a post.
In March, Citizen Lab examined the activist’s phone and determined it was hacked with Pegasus spyware introduced via iMessage texting and that it didn’t even require the phone’s user to so much as click.
Hours after releasing the fix, Apple said it had “rapidly” developed the update following Citizen Lab’s discovery of the problem.
“Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals,” the company said.