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Apple issues Pegasus like 'mercenary spyware' attack warning in India: What is it, how to safeguard yourself?

Apple warned iPhone users of possible mercenary spyware attacks in 92 countries including India. Apple said the reason for the attack could be victims’ name or work. Here’s all you need to know about mercenary spyware.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: April 12, 2024 12:58 IST
Apple issues Pegasus like 'mercenary spyware' attack warning
Image Source : FREE PIK Apple issues Pegasus like 'mercenary spyware' attack warning

Apple has issued a new threat notification for some iPhone users. Apple has issued this alert for 91 countries including India. According to Apple's alert, currently, iPhone users in 92 countries are at risk of dangerous spyware.

In its alert, Apple has mentioned the danger of Mercenary spyware attacks, which also include NSO group’s Pegasus, on iPhone users. The alert states that iPhone users can be targeted through this type of spyware. Apple has also sent an email in this regard to iPhone users.

Apple’s email

According to a report, Apple sent the mail to users in India at 12.30AM on April 11. The subject of this email is 'Alert', it says, “ALERT: Apple detected a targeted mercenary spyware attack against your iPhone.” As per the company, victims’ iPhones can be hacked by this attack. The reason for the attack could be both their name or work. Apple has asked targeted iPhone users to take this warning seriously.

Apple said that attacks like mercenary spyware are very rare because such attacks cost millions of dollars. Such attacks are used only against certain people. Apple has advised its iPhone users to be extremely careful and also not to open links or any other attachments received from unknown people.

What is mercenary spyware?

The mercenary spyware that Apple has detected in the iPhone is software. It works in exactly the same way as Pegasus Spyware works. Through this type of spyware, hackers obtain personal information of smartphone users. The life of software like Pegasus is very short, hence it is very difficult to find information about its source. Mercenary Spyware is mostly used for corporate espionage, political spying, and financial fraud.

How does spyware attack?

Usually, spyware accesses victims' smartphones when they visit an unsafe website or install an unsafe app. Many times it reaches their phones even when they open files from other websites. Once spyware reaches its target, it starts collecting the phone's data. This data may also include bank details and login passwords. This data is either used by the spyware creator itself or sold to third parties.

How hackers install spyware on phones

If there is any kind of bug in the hardware or software of the targeted mobile phone, then spyware easily reaches the device.

Hackers transfer malicious links to install spyware on smartphones. As soon as victims open these leaks, spyware is automatically installed in targeted devices and the device comes under the control of hackers.

Many times hackers also try to install spyware in smartphones by sending pop messages in mobile apps. Readers are advised to click on any link that comes through a pop-up very carefully.

Apple’s safety feature to avoid spyware

Apple also allows its iPhone users to avoid spyware like Pegasus. There is a special feature available in the iPhone with which you can avoid dangerous spyware. If you want to avoid spyware then you can turn on Lockdown Mode. In this feature, Apple provides many types of protection on the iPhone. Apple has designed this feature only for some special people.

When Lockdown Mode is activated, the device will not operate in its normal mode. This is done to minimise the risk of being targeted by highly specialised spyware. As a result, certain apps, websites, and features will be strictly limited for security purposes, and some features may not be available at all.

Apple has advised users to keep their iPhones updated to avoid the threat of Mercenary Spyware. Along with this, it has advised its users to create a strong password in the iPhone which cannot be easily cracked.

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