On Tuesday morning, a flurry of tweets from prominent Indian opposition figures emerged on Twitter. They shared screenshots from their iPhones, indicating they had been the targets of purported state-sponsored cyberattacks.
Key opposition leaders, including Shashi Tharoor, Mahua Moitra, Priyanka Chaturvedi, Asaduddin Owaisi, Sitaram Yechury, Raghav Chadha, and others, reported receiving Apple cyberattack alerts.
“Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID. These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do.”
If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to access your sensitive data, sensitive data, or even the camera or microphone. While it’s possible this is a false alarm, please take this warning seriously,” read the notification.
The notification further said, “Further state-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time. Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete. It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected. We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future.”
Shortly after the wave of tweets revealing such alerts being sent to opposition leaders, Rahul Gandhi, a prominent figure in the I.N.D.I.A. alliance addressed the issue in a press conference. He stated, “Very few people are fighting against this. You can do as much (phone) tapping as you want, I don’t care. If you want to take my phone, I will give it to you. We are not scared, we’re the ones that fight,” adding, “they can tap our phones as much as they want.”
The India Alliance is a coalition formed by leaders from 28 parties, created with the purpose of contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as a unified opposition front.
Details of the Apple Cyberattack Alert
The Apple cyberattack notifications sent by Apple to the opposition leaders didn’t pinpoint any particular state sponsored group; the alerts were more general in nature. However, the alerts did indicate that the perpetrators behind these attacks were highly sophisticated and well-funded.
The alert on Apple devices also mentioned the evolving threats and possibility of a false alarm due to imperfect detection.
Apple also mentioned that they will not be able to provide what triggers such notifications because this might help attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future.
In a previous article titled “Apple Threat Notifications and Protecting Against State-Sponsored Attacks,” Apple outlined that their alerts are intended to inform and assist users who might be targets of state-sponsored cyberattacks.
The company explained that such attacks are typically costly, complex, and often have a short duration. Importantly, they highlighted that these sophisticated attacks are generally not directed at the general public, but rather at specific, targeted individuals or groups.
In order to prevent such alerts, Apple also suggests uses users to keep their software updated with the latest versions, protect their Apple devices with passcodes and facial recognition, use two-factor-authentication and not click on attachments from unknown sources or download apps from anywhere other than App Store of Apple.
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