Apple released a critical software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers said could allow hackers to directly infect iPhones and other Apple devices without any user action.
Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the security issue was exploited to plant spyware on a Saudi activist’s iPhone. They said they had high confidence that the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, Israel’s NSO Group, was behind that attack.
The previously unknown vulnerability affected all major Apple devices – iPhones, Macs and Apple Watches, the researchers said. NSO Group responded with a one-sentence statement saying it will continue providing tools for fighting “terror and crime.”
It was the first time a so-called “zero-click” exploit – one that doesn’t require users to click on suspect links or open infected files – has been caught and analyzed, the researchers said. They found the malicious code on Sept. 7 and immediately alerted Apple. The targeted activist asked to remain anonymous, they said.
“We’re not necessarily attributing this attack to the Saudi government,” said researcher Bill Marczak.
Citizen Lab previously found evidence of zero-click exploits being used to hack into the phones of Al Jazeera journalists and other targets, but hasn’t previously seen the malicious code itself.
Although security experts say that average iPhone, iPad and Mac user generally need not worry – such attacks tend to be limited to specific targets – the discovery still alarmed security professionals.
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Malicious image files were transmitted to the activist’s phone via the iMessage instant-messaging app before it was hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which opens a phone to eavesdropping and remote data theft, Marczak said. It was discovered during a second examination of the phone, which forensics showed had been infected in March. He said the malicious file causes devices to crash.
Citizen Lab says the case reveals, once again, that NSO Group is allowing its spyware to be used against ordinary civilians.
In a blog post, Apple said it was issuing a security update for iPhones and iPads because a “maliciously crafted” PDF file could lead to them being hacked. It said it was aware that the issue may have been exploited and cited Citizen Lab.
In a subsequent statement, Apple security chief Ivan Krstic commended Citizen Lab and said such exploits “are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users.” He noted, as he has in the past, that such exploits typically cost millions of dollars to develop and often have a short shelf life. Apple didn’t respond to questions regarding whether this was the first time it had patched a zero-click vulnerability.
Users should get alerts on their iPhones prompting them to update the phone’s iOS software. Those who want to jump the gun can go into the phone settings, click “General” then “Software Update,” and trigger the patch update directly.
Bug in iPhone, iPad may have opened door to hackers, security company says
Citizen Lab called the iMessage exploit FORCEDENTRY and said it was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices. It urged people to immediately install security updates.
Researcher John Scott-Railton said the news highlights the importance of securing popular messaging apps against such attacks. “Chat apps are increasingly becoming a major way that nation-states and mercenary hackers are gaining access to phones,” he said. “And it’s why it’s so important that companies focus on making sure that they are as locked down as possible.”
The researchers said it also undermines NSO Group’s claims that it only sells its spyware to law enforcement officials for use against criminals and terrorists and audits its customers to ensure it’s not abused.
“If Pegasus was only being used against criminals and terrorists, we never would have found this stuff,” said Marczak.
Facebook’s WhatsApp was also allegedly targeted by an NSO zero-click exploit. In October 2019, Facebook sued NSO in U.S. federal court for allegedly targeting some 1,400 users of the encrypted messaging service with spyware.
In July, a global media consortium published a damning report on how clients of NSO Group have been spying for years on journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, and people close to them, with the hacker-for-hire group directly involved in the targeting. Amnesty International said it confirmed 37 successful Pegasus infections based on a leaked targeting list whose origin was not disclosed.
One case involved the fiancee of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA attributed the murder to the Saudi government.
The recent revelations also prompted calls for an investigation into whether Hungary’s right-wing government used Pegasus to secretly monitor critical journalists, lawyers and business figures. India’s parliament also erupted in protests as opposition lawmakers accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using NSO Groups’ product to spy on political opponents and others.
France is also trying to get to the bottom of allegations that President Emmanuel Macron and members of his government may have been targeted in 2019 by an unidentified Moroccan security service using Pegasus. Morocco, a key French ally, denied those reports and is taking legal action to counter allegations implicating the North African kingdom in the spyware scandal.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Apple Card, Apple Pay, and iUP all fail on iPhone 13 pre-order day, exposing fragility of Apple's expansion into credit and payment services – eMarketer
The news: iPhone 13 pre-orders went live early Friday morning. But buyers’ initial buzz of excitement at securing Apple’s latest smartphone was quickly replaced by frustration as those paying with Apple Pay, Apple Card, or using the iPhone Upgrade Program faced errors that stalled the checkout process, per 9to5Mac.
The problem: Customers using Apple’s own payments, credit, and iPhone upgrade services faced major issues that left many unable to complete their iPhone 13 purchases. Citizens One, Apple’s partner bank for the iPhone Upgrade Program, was also plagued with a variety of issues once preorders went live. Even buyers that were pre-approved for the yearly upgrade found their applications rejected by the website and Apple Store app.
- Apple Pay in the Apple Store app and via the Apple Store website was also buggy— many users were unable to check out using their Apple Pay and had to enter their card details manually.
- The Apple Card processing system went down with a variety of bugs. Users were unable to pay for their iPhone 13s using Apple Card—but other cards worked, which means Apple Card users missed out on the 3% Daily Cash incentive, a major feature of the service.
- Frustrated iPhone buyers opted to use other payment options like higher-interest credit cards or PayPal just to get an order in. Those that managed to get through later saw delivery dates pushed past mid-October.
What’s next: While new iPhone pre-order days are usually a big payday for Apple, the iPhone 13’s modest updates—as well as indications that only 10% of users plan to upgrade to the latest models—could result in an equally modest yield that may be further reduced by Apple’s pre-order fiasco.
- The collapse of its multiple payment and upgrade options on such a key day isn’t likely to show down iPhone 13 demand or sales, but its numerous frustrated customers could reflect poorly on Apple’s reputation.
- Consumers’ difficulties in obtaining iPhone 13 orders using Apple’s own credit card, payments, and upgrade programs underscores the fragility of companies overextending their reach into complicated new segments like financial services.
What Happens Next With Oppo And OnePlus – Forbes
OnePlus has laid out its new direction today, with further details on the integration of OnePlus and Oppo. This is the latest in a series of announcements following the news that OnePlus would be taken under the wing of sister company Oppo,
At the time this was seen as OnePlus and Oppo moving closer together to explicitly share resources behind the scenes with Oppo becoming the more dominant partner overall, while OnePlus’s customer facing activities would remain independent.
A few weeks after that announcement, OnePlus followed up with news that the two Android-based operating systems of the two companies, ColorOS and OxygenOS – would be merging much of the codebase while presenting the two different variants to their customers base; so OxygenOS remains for global devices and ColorOS for Chinese devices.
Today, OnePlus’ Co-founder Pete Lau has detailed the next step in the partnership with Oppo. Brandon it OnePlus 2.0, it reinforces the integration of ColorOS and OxygenOS, as well as keeping the distinctiveness between the forward facing parts. From a resources point of view, the benefits of having more commonality should be obvious while keeping granularity for the users.
Lau has also presented a broad strokes timetable for the switchover. The new combined OS will launch in a OnePlus device with the 2022 flagship… i’d assume that is going to be the OnePlus 10 Pro, although there is an opportunity here to introduce a new brand name for the top end devices. Following that, the new OS will roll out across the OnePlus global devices along with 2022’s major Android upgrade.
How this will fit with the increased use of regional brands such as the OnePlus R handsets in India and the OnePlus Nord handsets in Europe remains to be seen.
What can be seen is the OnePlus team keeping its community up to date with the changes. While its too early to go into precise details on the availability of upgrades (at least in public), the roadmap has been brought into focus a little bit more today.
M1 brings new iPhone 13 lineup, iPad models to Singapore – Telecompaper EN
Singapore operator M1 has announced it will offer the iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 mini, iPad (9th generation) and iPad mini on the local market. M1 customers can now pre-order the iPhone 13 lineup, as well as the iPad mini and iPad. The devices will be commercially available starting 24 September.
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