Apple alerts users in 92 nations to mercenary attacks in new warning

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Apple sent threat notifications to iPhone users in 92 countries on Wednesday, warning them that may have been targeted by mercenary spyware attacks.

The company sent the alerts to individuals in 92 nations at 12pm Pacific Time on Wednesday. The company did not disclose the attackers’ identities or the countries where users received notifications.

“Apple detected that you are being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID -xxx-,” the company wrote in the warning to affected customers.

“This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it’s never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning — please take it seriously.”

The iPhone-maker sends these notifications multiple times a year and has notified users in over 150 countries since 2021, it wrote in an updated support page.

Apple’s warnings come amid a global wave of elections. Many firms have cautioned about rising state-sponsored efforts to sway certain electoral outcomes. Apple’s alerts did not remark on their timing. “We are unable to provide more information about what caused us to send you this notification, as that may help mercenary spyware attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future,” the company told impacted customers.

Apple previously described the attackers as “state-sponsored” but has replaced all such references with “mercenary spyware attacks.” The warning to customers read: “Mercenary spyware attacks, such as those using Pegasus from the NSO Group, are exceptionally rare and vastly more sophisticated than regular cybercriminal activity or consumer malware.”

Apple says it relies solely on “internal threat-intelligence information and investigations to detect such attacks.” It adds: “Although our investigations can never achieve absolute certainty, Apple threat notifications are high-confidence alerts that a user has been individually targeted by a mercenary spyware attack and should be taken very seriously.”

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