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iPhone users in 92 countries warned they could be target of ‘mercenary spyware attack’

iPhone users in 92 countries warned they could be target of ‘mercenary spyware attack’

It told iPhone users attackers were likely targeting them 'individually because of who you are or what you do'

Apple has sent out a warning to iPhone users in 92 different countries to inform them they could be at risk of a ‘mercenary spyware attack'.

News of the widespread notification comes after one iPhone user took to Reddit this week to share the news that they were among the people to have received the warning.

Apple warned attackers could access the camera. (Reddit/u/Fluid-Combination-70)
Apple warned attackers could access the camera. (Reddit/u/Fluid-Combination-70)

In the post, they explained the notification had come from an Apple email address and warned that attackers were 'likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do'.

It turns out they were one of multiple users to receive the notifications, with users in India and 91 other countries also on the receiving end.

Indian news outlets including the Economic Times and the Indian Express shared reports of users receiving warnings that attackers were 'trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID', and that they should take the warning 'seriously'.

On its website, Apple explains that its threat notifications are designed to 'inform and assist users who may have been individually targeted by mercenary spyware attacks'.

Previously, Apple pointed to 'state-sponsored attackers' in its messaging, however it has since updated its site to reference 'mercenary spyware attacks'.

The company still states that such attacks have 'historically been associated with state actors, including private companies developing mercenary spyware on their behalf'.

The notifications can arrive in two forms; a Threat Notification displayed at the top of the page after the user has signed in to, and an email and iMessage notification sent to the email addresses and phone numbers associated with the user’s Apple ID.

If you receive such a notification, Apple then points to next steps to protect your device, including going into 'Lockdown Mode' via your phone settings.

iPhones can be switched to Lockdown Mode (Getty Stock Photo)
iPhones can be switched to Lockdown Mode (Getty Stock Photo)

Unlike regular cybercriminal activity and consumer malware, Apple explains that mercenary spyware attackers target only a small number of specific individuals, using techniques that come at 'exceptional cost and complexity'.

Professions that are reportedly often in the firing line of these include journalists, activists, politicians and diplomats, but Apple has warned that mercenary spyware attacks are 'ongoing and global'.

Since 2021, Apple said it has sent notifications to more than 150 countries in total as it detects the attacks.

The company did not provide information on what prompted it to send the notifications out this week, but it states that it relies 'solely on internal threat-intelligence information and investigations to detect such attacks'.

"Although our investigations can never achieve absolute certainty, Apple threat notifications are high-confidence alerts that a user has been individually targeted by a mercenary spyware attack and should be taken very seriously," the company says.

UNILAD has contacted Apple for a comment.

Featured Image Credit: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Technology, Crime, World News