How was a loophole in iMessage hacked into dozens of journalists’ iPhones?

How was a loophole in iMessage hacked into dozens of journalists’ iPhones?

A new report revealed Issued by a group (Citizen Lab) at the University of Toronto for exploiting an unknown vulnerability in the application of (iMessage) To penetrate dozens of journalists’ iPhones, and this hack occurred in July and August 2020, when government agents used the Pegasus spyware to penetrate 36 personal phones of journalists, producers, reporters, and executives at Al-Jazeera. Also, the phone of a journalist at the London-based Al Arabi channel was hacked.

Is considered spyware (Pegasus) – developed by the company (NSO Group) – is a solution for surveillance and spying by phone, which enables customers to exploit vulnerabilities in devices and monitor them remotely. NSO Group is a producer and supplier of surveillance technologies to governments around the world, whose products are linked to surveillance violations and espionage.

How was iPhone phones hacked through this vulnerability?

Journalists’ phones were hacked using a series of vulnerabilities dubbed (KISMET) that appeared to involve exploiting an unknown vulnerability (Zero-click) in the application (iMessage). (KISMET) was targeting the latest version of iOS 13 – (version # 1 iOS 13.5.1) – and it could have been used to hack a phone (iPhone 11The latest from Apple at the time.

Records of hacked iPhones collected by researchers at the (Citizen Lab) indicate that a number of NSO Group customers also used the same vulnerability from October to December of 2019, indicating that this was not discovered or fixed for a long period of time. .

This is evidence that the company (NSO Group) no longer relies on the malicious link approach in SMS messages to penetrate the phones of the targets, as it has recently turned towards other vulnerabilities; Like: (zero-click),Vulnerabilities based on the network Allows hacking of phones Without any interaction from the targetAnd without leaving any visible traces.

The WhatsApp hack in 2019 – at least 1,400 phones were targeted by a vulnerability that was exploited via voice call – is one example of this shift.

This is what happened with the hacked iPhones, as once the spyware was implanted in the target’s phone, the target iPhone would begin to download large amounts of data, sometimes amounting to hundreds of megabytes, without the user’s knowledge.

The uploaded data is believed to include ambient audio recorded by the phone’s microphone, the content of encrypted phone calls, images captured with the phone’s camera, the phone’s geographic location, as well as any passwords stored in the phone.

What is Apple’s response?

There is still no evidence that the KISMET vulnerabilities can be exploited in IOS 14 Or its recent versions, as this release focuses on greatly improving security features and protecting privacy, so all owners of iPhone phones must update immediately to the latest available version of iOS 14.

Apple said: “It cannot independently verify the work of the (Citizen Lab), and it is constantly working to enhance the security of user and device data. It also urged its customers to install the latest version of their device operating systems to protect themselves and their data.”

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