Researchers from digital watchdog group Citizen Lab have identified spyware connected to the Israeli company NSO, which exploits a recently uncovered vulnerability in Apple (AAPL.O) devices.
During an examination of an Apple device belonging to an employee of a Washington-based civil society organization last week, Citizen Lab discovered that the flaw had been leveraged to infect the device with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, according to their statement.
Citizen Lab’s senior researcher, Bill Marczak, confidently attributed the exploit to NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, citing forensic evidence from the targeted device.
The installation process likely contained an error, leading Citizen Lab to detect the spyware.
Citizen Lab noted that Apple confirmed the efficacy of its high-security feature, “Lockdown Mode,” in blocking this specific attack.
John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, highlighted the vital role played by civil society as an early warning system against highly sophisticated attacks.
However, Citizen Lab did not disclose further information regarding the affected individual or the organization involved.
The flaw allowed for the compromise of iPhones running the latest iOS version (16.6) without any user interaction, as reported by the digital watchdog.
Apple promptly addressed the issue by releasing updates for its devices following an investigation into Citizen Lab’s findings.
An Apple spokesperson declined to provide additional comments, but Citizen Lab urged consumers to update their devices.
In response, NSO issued a statement, asserting that they could not respond to allegations lacking supporting research.
Notably, the U.S. government had blacklisted the Israeli firm in 2021 due to allegations of misconduct, including the surveillance of government officials and journalists.