Several elite personnel, including an anonymous Kenyan politician have had their iPhones hacked, with spyware technology. This particular hacking mechanism takes advantage of several flaws in the iPhone’s operating system or iOS, that Apple themselves weren’t aware of. The spyware is activated through a text message containing a counterfeit link such as “what is the best resume font?“, which once clicked loads a page on one’s browser that eventually infects the iPhone device.
Once a phone is infected, any activity conducted with the device, especially calls, messages, emails, including communication through applications such as WhatsApp, are capable of being exposed and acquired by third parties. The spyware achieves this level of intrusion by granting itself privileges or permissions.
According to sources, the spyware was a creation of the NSO Group, a company founded in Israeli that often contracts with governments throughout the world to spy on various people using advanced technology. However, NSO spokesman Zamir Dahbash, rejected the hacking accusations, claiming that agreements signed with the company’s customers require that the company’s products only be used in a lawful manner, indicating that the products may only be used for the prevention and investigation of crimes.
This is the first spyware technology capable of completely taking over an iPhone’s operating system, while exposing confidential material to hackers who planted the software. Apple has however managed to solve the issue after it was reported by Citizen Lab. The Lab was previously informed about the defect by Ahmed Mansoor, a UAE human rights activist and one of the many iPhone users to receive the notorious message.
Citizen Lab discovered among several other victims to the spyware technology, “a Mexican journalist and a minority party politician in Kenya…and that domain names set up for other attacks referred to entities in Uzbekistan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other nations, suggesting that other targets lived in those nations.”
To ensure that iPhone users don’t fall victim to such once again, many are being advised to make sure they update their devices to iOS 9.3.5, which includes a fix to the flaw. However, who is the Kenyan politician, and why was s/he being targeted by the NSO?