Apple issues new warning about iPhone mercenary spyware attacks

Apple has issued threat notifications to iPhone users in 92 countries over the threat of mercenary spyware attacks.

Apple is issuing alerts to iPhone users worldwide about the threat of mercenary spyware attacks. The company sent email warnings to iPhone owners in 92 countries about these remotely enabled threats, which target people based on their position or occupation.

While most iPhone users are unlikely to be targeted by mercenary spyware attacks, those targeted could have their devices controlled remotely, enabling the theft of sensitive information.

“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 alert reads.

“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.”

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These attacks are usually carried out by nation-state-sponsored bad actors who seek to compromise individuals such as politicians, journalists, and activists.

While these attacks are comparatively rare, Apple sends related notifications multiple times every year, covering iPhone users in over 150 countries.

If iPhone spyware attacks such as these are successful, they allow adversaries to completely take over the device. Attackers can listen in to calls, read emails—and even access apps such as WhatsApp and Signal, because they can see everything on your iPhone’s screen.

The warnings this time are particularly significant as multiple nations are preparing for national and regional elections in the coming months. Consequently, several tech companies have warned about the growing potential of state-sponsored spyware attacks to sway electoral results.

The attacks need to be mitigated via the latest software updates and forensic support, which can reduce risks for iPhone users in the long run.

Signs your iPhone may have been targeted by spyware include slowing of the device, fast draining battery, or overheating. Aside from changes to the way your iPhone is working, an orange or green dot could be a sign your device has been taken over.

Apple shows an Orange dot when the mic is in use and a green dot when the camera is on. This could be legitimate if you are on the phone or a videocall, but if your iPhone is not in use, look into it immediately

Overall, every iPhone user should be ensuring their iOS software is up to date—the latest version is iOS 17.4.1. Apple might also release a new iOS update to patch the holes used for this latest spyware attack, or they might have even patched it already..