Apple Warns of ‘Mercenary Spyware’ Attacks Targeting Users in 92 Countries

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Key Takeaways

  • Apple warns users in 92 countries of "mercenary spyware" attacks targeting specific Apple IDs linked to their iPhones.
  • The alerts stress the seriousness of these advanced, identity-based cyberattacks, urging affected users to follow updated safety advice on Apple's support page.
  • This is part of ongoing efforts by Apple to inform users about sophisticated cyber threats, including previous warnings about "state-sponsored" attacks.

Apple has alerted its users in India and 91 countries about a potential “mercenary spyware” attack. It compromises iPhones remotely linked to specific Apple IDs.

The alert was disseminated through threat notifications sent to the likely target users. According to The Economic Times, Apple said in the notification message that the user was “being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone,” associated with a particular Apple ID.

Apple emphasized the gravity of the situation, advising users to take the warning seriously as the attack was likely aimed at them due to their identity or profession.

The company has also revised its support page with advice for users who might be targets of the mercenary spyware attack. The company refrains from disclosing details about potential attackers to prevent them from modifying their tactics.

What is a mercenary attack?

Mercenary spyware attacks, such as the Pegasus from the NSO Group, are rare and significantly more advanced than typical cybercriminal activities or consumer malware. These attacks are usually highly targeted, focusing on individuals based on their identity or job.

This is the second wave of threat notifications that Apple has dispatched to its global user base within six months. In October 2023, Apple issued similar alerts to users in various countries, including India, about a “state-sponsored” attack on their devices. However, the company did not disclose which state was behind the threat.

The recent alert from Apple points to the escalating complexity of cyber threats and the importance of user vigilance. While Apple has reassured that most users will not be targeted by such attacks, it has encouraged those who receive the warning to take it seriously and adhere to the protective measures outlined on its updated support page.