Did Apple warn you about targeted spyware? Take it seriously

  • iPhone users in 92 countries received alerts from Apple warning they may be being targeted by spyware.
  • While Apple didn’t disclose who the attacker may be, it has advised alerted users to take precautions to protect their privacy.
  • Since 2021, Apple has alerted users in 150 countries that they may be the target of a spyware attack.

You want to check your Apple notifications if you’re using an iPhone because Apple has issued a rather serious alert to users in 92 countries.

The Cupertino firm didn’t disclose which countries make up that 92 but the alert is serious as it’s about spyware attacks.

“Apple threat notifications are designed to inform and assist users who may have been individually targeted by mercenary spyware attacks, likely because of who they are or what they do. Such attacks are vastly more complex than regular cybercriminal activity and consumer malware, as mercenary spyware attackers apply exceptional resources to target a very small number of specific individuals and their devices. Mercenary spyware attacks cost millions of dollars and often have a short shelf life, making them much harder to detect and prevent. The vast majority of users will never be targeted by such attacks,” reads an explanation on an Apple support page.

According to TechCrunch, the alerts were dispatched by Apple on Wednesday at around 21:00 SAST. As such, if you’re in South Africa you would’ve received an alert quite late. Alerts will be visible when signing into Apple on the web. The firm also sends out emails and iMessage notifications to users who have provided this information in their Apple ID.

Apple reportedly didn’t disclose who is executing these spyware attacks but in a support page it makes specific mention of NSO Group. This firm creates spyware and many of its clients are said to be governments, although the firm’s client list is a well-kept secret. NSO Group was the firm behind the Pegasus spyware which is used to spy on journalists, activists and politicians.

Given that South Africa is approaching election season, warnings about spyware should be taken seriously.

Of course, as the Cupertino colossus notes, most people won’t be targeted by spyware. However, if you are receiving these alerts, Apple recommends seeking out “expert help”. The firm recommends contacting Access Now via its digital security helpline. Access Now is a global organisation and you can get in contact via email, maybe, just use an email service that promises to protect your privacy and not Gmail for example.

In general Apple recommends all users guard against cybercrime by taking the following actions:

  • Update devices to the latest software, as that includes the latest security fixes,
  • Protect devices with a passcode,
  • Use two-factor authentication and a strong password for Apple ID,
  • Install apps from the App Store,
  • Use strong and unique passwords online,
  • Don’t click on links or attachments from unknown senders.

Users can also enable Lockdown Mode for additional protection.

Since 2021, Apple has alerted users in 150 countries that they may be the target of a spyware attack.


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