Israeli spyware company NSO Group last year used new methods to hack iPhones using at least three methods: writes Bloomberg cites a report by Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto.
These methods, based on using a chain of zero-click exploits (those that do not require user interaction), allow the company to bypass the iPhone’s security features and install NSO Pegasus spyware, which collects information from the device and can also use its cameras and microphones for real-time surveillance. When hacked using these methods, the user does not even have to click on a malicious link for Pegasus to intrude into the device.
The report cites Apple’s lockdown mode, introduced last year, which for a time was able to detect attempts to hack devices by notifying users via push messages that they were being attacked by an NSO group. Citizen Lab admits that hackers managed to bypass this protection.
“We’re pleased to see that lockdown mode prevented such a sophisticated attack and immediately alerted users, even before Apple and security researchers became aware of the specific threat.” said an Apple spokesman.
The report indicates that NSO Group was able to bypass another security feature in iOS called BlastDoor. However, Citizen Lab recommends that users whose activities could be hacked by spyware enable lockdown mode.
The Citizen Lab report also mentions the PWNYOURHOME and FINDMYPWN methods, which use built-in Apple services to inject spyware into the iPhone via the HomeKit and Find My iPhone modules.
Citizen Lab said it reported its findings to Apple in October 2022, after which the company released a security update in February of this year. Commenting on the Citizen Lab report, an NSO spokesman said that the company “meets strict regulations and its technologies are used by government customers to fight terrorism and crime around the world.”