This Violent Spyware Can't Be Stopped by WhatsApp and iPhone


The Pegasus spyware made by the NSO Group has often been questioned because its sophistication can endanger the privacy and security of mobile phone users.

Although the vulnerability has often been patched, this spyware maker continues to find new loopholes to infiltrate cellphones, including iPhones. Between June 2020 and February 2021, at least nine activists from Bahrain were spied on by Pegasus.

In fact, the victim used an iPhone that was already using iOS 14, aka the latest iOS version at that time. Called effective because Pegasus can still function in a 'zero-click', aka the victim does not need to do anything like clicking links and the like to get infected with the spyware.

This Pegasus attack uses a zero-click exploit against iMessage. The victim doesn't have to do anything to get infected. One of the exploits used here is called KISMET and was first discovered in 2020.

But there is still another loophole that can be used to break into Apple's security system called Blastdoor. Citizen Lab calls this exploit FORCEDENTRY.

Citizen Lab found that this Pegasus attack was successfully carried out on iPhones with the latest iOS, they also said that iOS 14.4 and 14.6 confirmed that Pegasus could still be uprooted.

Pegasus's action clearly irritated many parties. Not only victims are spied on, but also software and device makers who are victims of this spyware. Facebook -- the owner of WhatsApp -- then sued NSO for Pegasus. In the past, WhatsApp has also been breached by Pegasus, even though the gap has been patched.

NSO was later included in the Entity List, a black list of companies prohibited from doing business with companies from the United States. Then the Israeli government once raided the NSO office, and they refused to be associated with NSO.

Although NSO exports its products outside of Israel with the permission of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which later also investigated NSO after allegations of misuse of its software.

"NSO is a private company, this is not a government project and that's why even if they did it on purpose, it has nothing to do with the policies of the Israeli government," said Yair Lapid, Israel's foreign minister.

The most recent is Apple's lawsuit against NSO. Apple said the NSO Group created state-sponsored state-of-the-art surveillance technology that allows highly targeted spyware to keep an eye on its victims.

This attack only targeted a small number of users, but it impacted people across multiple platforms, including iOS and Android.

“The NSO Group is like a state sponsored actor, spending millions of dollars on advanced surveillance technology without effective accountability. That needs to change,” Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering.

Then Apple also stated that it would notify users who were victims of Pegasus, who took advantage of the FORCEDENTRY security vulnerability, which even though it has been patched, there are still victims whose iPhones have already been infiltrated by the spyware.

But what is clear is that every victim of the FORCEDENTRY attack will be notified by Apple, either via email, iMessage, or SMS. Apple will also provide instructions for patching the vulnerability and fixing privacy and cybersecurity issues afterwards.

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