Apple will warn iPhone users of “state-sponsored attackers”

Picture for an article titled Here's the Worst Apple Notice

Photography: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

Have you ever wondered if the government wants to catch you? Well, if you’re an iPhone user, you’ll now be able to keep up to date with this scary information.

Apple announced plans to notify users when it is suspected that they have been hacked by “state” threats. This move seems to have been at least partially inspired by the recent one hacker controversy involving Israeli spyware maker NSO Group, which sells surveillance equipment to governments around the world and has been repeatedly linked to covert spy incidents involving iPhone users.

On Tuesday, Apple announced that he filed a lawsuit against the NSO and its parent company, in an effort to “hold him accountable for monitoring and targeting Apple users.” The NSO is also currently facing a different but similar lawsuit filed by Facebook/ Targets for its role in hacking WhatsApp users.

The silver backdrop to the creepy shit of malware dealers is Apple’s new notification policy, which is already in action. Apple’s announcement states that from now on, affected users will be notified by email and iMessage and will also receive a “threat notification” sent to their Apple ID website, which looks something like this:

Picture for an article titled Here's the Worst Apple Notice

Screenshot: Lucas Ropek / Apple

“Apple’s threat alerts are designed to inform and assist customers who may have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers.” says the company.

Apple sent some of its first notifications to activists and researchers in Thailand on Tuesday, Reuters reports. One affected researcher shared screenshots a notice on Twitter, showing a rather generic warning message about “state-sponsored attackers”.

Picture for an article titled Here's the Worst Apple Notice

Screenshot: Lucas Ropek / Twitter

It’s a bit unclear how much information Apple plans to share with affected parties. For example, if you were a target, will you get a message telling you about a particular APT or group of threats? Or you will simply be left with a frightening but vague knowledge about it someone wants to catch you? From the screenshots shared online, more seems to be the latter. And if that’s the case, the best answer might be to throw your iPhone into the sea. We have contacted Apple for clarification and will update this story if they respond.

In any case, it’s a pretty interesting development — although it probably doesn’t affect most users. In its announcement, Apple points out the fact that “the vast majority of users will never be targeted” and that such attacks are typically reserved for journalists, researchers or other individuals engaged in high-risk political activities.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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