An updated Pegasus spyware exploit, deployed by NSO Group, was discovered on a Bahraini activist’s iPhone. Researchers at Citizen Lab determined that the phone has been infected since February 2021.
The new NSO Group exploit, dubbed ForcedEntry for its ability to bypass iOS’s BlastDoor security, is built on the cyberweaponry company’s Pegasus spyware.
Citizen Lab and Amnesty International first exposed the iOS 14-targeting capabilities of Pegasus in July 2021.
The Citizen Lab found that the updated Pegasus hack uses a “zero-click” attack that does not require user interaction.
The new spyware can bypass Apple’s BlastDoor security feature present in all versions of iOS 14, an aspect designed to stave off these types of hacks.
“Apple would not explicitly say if it had found and fixed the vulnerability that NSO is exploiting,” TechCrunch reported.
On Tuesday, Apple’s Head of Security, Engineering, and Architecture, Ivan Krstic, released a statement.
“Apple unequivocally condemns cyberattacks against journalists, human rights activists, and others seeking to make the world a better place,” Krstic said.
“Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals.”
“While that means they are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users, we continue to work tirelessly to defend all our customers, and we are constantly adding new protections for their devices and data.”
An Apple spokesperson indicated that Apple had bolstered its defences in iOS 15, which is expected to be released this spring (between September and November).