Apple warns of mercenary spyware attacks in 98 countries

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Apple has issued a new round of threat notifications to iPhone users in 98 countries warning them about potential mercenary spyware attacks. This is the second such alert campaign from the company this year, after a similar notification was sent to users in 92 countries in April.

According to a support document on the company’s website, Apple has been regularly sending these notifications since 2021, reaching users in more than 150 countries. Wednesday’s warning does not reveal the identity of the attackers or the countries where users have received the notifications.

“Apple has detected that you may be the victim of a mercenary spyware attack that is attempting to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID -xxx-,” the company warned affected customers.

“This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it is never possible to achieve absolute certainty in detecting attacks like this, Apple is confident in this warning – please take it seriously,” Apple added in the text.

According to user testimonials, users in India are among those who have received Apple’s latest threat notifications. In October, Apple sent similar warnings to several journalists and politicians in the country. Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International later discovered the presence of Pegasus, a highly invasive spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, on iPhones of prominent Indian journalists.

In its message to affected users, Apple emphasized the sensitive nature of its threat detection methods and cautioned that revealing additional details could help attackers avoid detection in the future.

Apple has also significantly changed its language since last year, preferring to describe these incidents as “mercenary spyware attacks” rather than the previously used term “state-sponsored” attacks.

Apple said it relies “solely on internal threat-intelligence and investigations” to detect such attacks.

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