Apple alerts iPhone users in 98 countries to mercenary spyware attacks

Apple has issued a new round of threat notifications to iPhone users across 98 countries, warning them of potential mercenary spyware attacks. It’s the second such alert campaign from the company this year, following a similar notification sent to users in 92 nations in April.

Since 2021, Apple has been regularly sending these notifications, reaching users in over 150 countries, according to a support document on the company’s website. The Wednesday warning did not disclose the attackers’ identities or the countries where users received notifications.

“Apple detected that you are being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID -xxx-,” the company wrote in the warning to affected customers.

“This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it’s never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning — please take it seriously,” Apple added in the text.

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

In its communication to impacted users, Apple stressed the sensitive nature of its threat identification methods, cautioning that divulging additional details could potentially aid attackers in evading future detection.

Apple has also made a notable shift in its language since last year, opting to describe these incidents as “mercenary spyware attacks” instead of the previously used term “state-sponsored” attacks.

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

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