Technology: Apple will launch a tool against spyware


Apple will introduce a new data protection tool for journalists and activists after the Pegasus affair.

An Apple store in Shanghai on October 5, 2021. (Illustrative image)


Apple will offer this fall a new data protection tool for journalists and activists, after the Pegasus affair revealed the extraordinary technical capabilities of certain spyware.

The “Lockdown” mode (“containment”), is an “extreme protection, optional, for the very small number of users whose digital security is seriously threatened”, explained Apple in a press release on Wednesday.

These are people “who can be targeted by ultra-sophisticated attacks, carried out thanks to the programs of NSO Group and other mercenary companies which develop spyware on behalf of governments”, details the Californian giant.

“Zero click”

In September, Apple had to urgently repair a computer vulnerability that the Pegasus software, from the Israeli firm NSO Group, was able to exploit to infect iPhones, without users even having to click on booby-trapped links or buttons. , using a process called “zero-click”.

The new option will allow users to completely secure many services and content on their device, including attachments. It will no longer be possible to connect a computer via cable to an iPhone if it is locked. Apple has also expanded its program for cybersecurity researchers. The group will offer a new bonus, up to 2 million dollars (1.94 million dollars), to hackers who report flaws in the Lockdown mode.

A year ago, an international media collective revealed that Pegasus had made it possible to spy on the numbers of journalists, politicians, activists or business leaders from different countries, including French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Amoral Mercenaries”

NSO Group has repeatedly assured that its technologies allow states to save lives, by tracking pedophiles and terrorists, for example. But Apple, which has built its success in particular on its excellent reputation for security and respect for privacy, filed a complaint against the Israeli company in November.

She accuses him of being responsible for the “malicious activities” of some of his clients, including governments. “These are amoral mercenaries of the 21st century who have created ultra-sophisticated cyber-surveillance machines, inciting flagrant and routine abuses”, had indicated the lawyers of the American group in the complaint.

Two weeks ago, Google exposed Italian spyware that was used to hack smartphones to spy on users in Italy and Kazakhstan. “These companies facilitate the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools and arm governments that would not otherwise be able to develop these skills,” the tech giant said.


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