Apple's Emergency Patch For NSO Hack

Apple has released an emergency software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers have said allows hackers to directly infect iPhones and other Apple devices without any user action. Apple was not aware of the attack until researchers found evidence of it on a Saudi activist's phone. The  patch is to fix a major vulnerability in iMessage.

Security researchers found the vulnerability when they were investigating the potential hack of a Saudi activist’s iPhone, says Citizen Lab, a digital rights group housed at the University of Toronto's Munk School that has been analysing the Israeli NSO Group spyware. 

Malicious image files were transmitted to the activist’s phone via the iMessage instant-messaging app before it was hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which opens a phone to allow spying and remote data theft. “While analysing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we discovered a zero-day zero-click exploit against iMessage...  
The exploit, which we call FORCEDENTRY, targets Apple’s image rendering library, and was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices.”

Pegasus is a powerful spyware that is capable of turning on a target’s camera and microphone to record messages, texts, emails, and calls, even if they’re sent via encrypted messaging apps. 

“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. We believe that FORCEDENTRY has been in use since at least February 2021” says Citizen Lab.

Researchers believe the attack was carried out by a customer of NSO, the infamous Israeli company that sells spyware to dozens of governments all over the world. 

The hack relied on an unknown vulnerability, also known as a zero-day in iMessage, which allowed the hackers to take over a target’s phone by sending them a message that was effectively invisible. These kinds of attacks are called zero-click exploits, as they don’t require the victim to click on anything.  The breach was significant because the flaws exploited the latest iPhone software at the time, both iOS 14.4 and later iOS 14.6, which Apple released in May. But the exploit broke through new iPhone defences that Apple had embedded into iOS 14, named BlastDoor, which were supposed to prevent silent attacks by filtering potentially malicious code. 

Zero click remote exploits are used to  infect a device without the victim’s knowledge or the need for the victim to click on anything at all and can be used to infect victim devices for as long as six months. They are principally used by governments, mercenaries and criminals who want to secretly monitor targets’ devices undetected.

Citizen Lab:    Vice:    The Register:    Flipboard:     Independent:      Threatpost:     Times Colonist:   

Image: Unsplash

You Might Also Read: 

The Spycraft Revolution:

 

« CYRIN Webinar - Stop Ransomware In Its Tracks
National Cybersecurity Failings: How Businesses Can Improve Their Security »

Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Clayden Law

Clayden Law

Clayden Law are experts in information technology, data privacy and cybersecurity law.

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Free Access: Cyber Security Supplier Directory listing 5,000+ specialist service providers.

MIRACL

MIRACL

MIRACL provides the world’s only single step Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which can replace passwords on 100% of mobiles, desktops or even Smart TVs.

FREE eBook: Practical Guide To Optimizing Your Cloud Deployments

FREE eBook: Practical Guide To Optimizing Your Cloud Deployments

AWS Marketplace eBook: Optimizing your cloud deployments to accelerate cloud activities, reduce costs, and improve customer experience.

CSI Consulting Services

CSI Consulting Services

Get Advice From The Experts: * Training * Penetration Testing * Data Governance * GDPR Compliance. Connecting you to the best in the business.

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81 is a Zero Trust Network as a Service designed to simplify secure network, cloud and application access for the modern and distributed workforce.

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

Advanced Resource Managers (ARM)

Advanced Resource Managers (ARM)

ARM provide specialist recruitment services for technology and engineering including cyber security.

adaware

adaware

adaware is an award-winning security and privacy software provider, empowering users to connect with confidence.

CryptoMill Cybersecurity Solutions

CryptoMill Cybersecurity Solutions

CryptoMill Cybersecurity Solutions provides advanced, innovative data security solutions for enterprises, professionals and individuals.

Institute of Informatics and Telematics (IIT)

Institute of Informatics and Telematics (IIT)

IIT carries out activities of research, assessment, technology transfer and training in the field of Information and Communication Technologies and of Computational Sciences.

GlobalPass

GlobalPass

Covering 200+ countries with 78 000 databases, GlobalPass provides sophisticated facial biometrics verification and deep screening, delivering peace of mind to every client.

GB Group (GBG)

GB Group (GBG)

GBG is a global technology specialist in fraud, location and identity data intelligence.

ProLion

ProLion

ProLion provides Data Integrity solutions that ensure organisations’ data remains secure, compliant, manageable and accessible.

Ampion

Ampion

Ampion is a leading Australian provider of cyber security, DevOps and quality engineering services.