Pegasus Spyware Reportedly Hacks Thai Activists and Supporters | What’s The Motive? | #macos | #macsecurity

A civic organization reported that over 30 Thai activists and supporters were attacked using Pegasus malware from NSO Group.

More than 30 Thai Activists were Attacked with a Spyware

The powerful Pegasus spyware from NSO Group has been used to attack more than 30 Thai activists and supporters, civic organizations said late on Sunday (July 17), as reported by The Washington Post. This is the first nationwide campaign made public due to Apple’s warnings to targeted iPhone users.

Pegasus can collect audio, photographs, texts, contacts, emails, and any phone communications, including those that are tightly encrypted. It may be installed using any “exploit” or attack application for Android or iPhone. 

According to a study by Citizen Lab researchers at the University of Toronto, Pegasus spyware was widely used against pro-democracy demonstrators in 2020 and 2021, including those who had previously been physically assaulted, harassed, and arrested by Thai police. 

The forensic analysis performed by the Citizen Lab, submitted to peer review by experts at Amnesty International’s security lab, throws into question claims made by Thai government officials who said last year that allegations of state-sponsored attacks were “untrue.”

Apple approached iLaw, a local human rights group, after informing suspected Pegasus victims in November. Some Thai Apple alert recipients contacted civic organizations, and iLaw found more victims.

Israeli-based NSO Group has been banned from U.S. transactions following discoveries that its spyware was used against nonviolent dissidents and their allies across the globe, including State Department workers.

The business has become the most recent representation of one of the world’s most challenging problems: how to prevent governments from recruiting talented engineers to exploit security holes and spy on anybody they like.

Apple and Facebook’s parent company Meta have also filed lawsuits against NSO, alleging that they violated American law by hacking their equipment.

Read Also: NASA x Roscosmos: US, Russian Astronauts to Switch Rocket Seats for the Second Time

Apple Reveals Lockdown Mode that Prevents Spyware Assaults on Users

Apple has unveiled a new security mechanism to shield high-risk consumers from cyberattacks, including malware, BBC News reports. The company’s iPhones, iPads, and Macs will support Lockdown Mode starting in the fall with the release of the newest operating system.

The option restricts calls from unidentified users and inhibits certain functions. It follows the spyware infection of Apple devices used by journalists, lawmakers, and activists.

Apple is presently suing Israeli spyware company NSO Group, alleging that it used its potent Pegasus malware to target people in 150 different nations. The firm came under fire from privacy and security experts in July when the scope of the suspected surveillance was made public.

Lockdown Mode will be accessible to all users in the device settings at launch, but Apple advises against using it unless you are in particular danger from what it terms “mercenary spyware assaults,” such as a journalist or an opposition figure in an oppressive government.

The following safeguards will be present in the new feature:

  1. Messages: All attachment kinds except photos are restricted. Link previews are one of the functions that are deactivated.
  2. Web browsing: Unless the user excludes a reputable site, several sophisticated web features, such as just-in-time JavaScript compilation, are blocked.
  3. Calls: If the user hasn’t already called or requested the initiator, incoming calls are banned even over FaceTime.
  4. When the iPhone is locked, wired connections to a device or accessory are prevented.

Related Article: Pegasus Spyware Detector: 4 Ways to Tell If Your Android Is Infected and How to Use Amnesty’s Toolkit

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