Apple issues emergency updates to fix major 'zero-click vulnerability' in all of its operating...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,219   +884
Staff member
PSA: If you own an Apple device, you may have noticed an unscheduled update notification today. You may want to perform those updates at your earliest convenience. The patches are for iOS, watchOS, and macOS and fix a major security flaw that has been actively exploited since February to install Pegasus spyware on devices without user intervention.

On Monday, Apple pushed out emergency updates for iOS, watchOS, and macOS. The security patches were issued in response to a massive exploit that allowed the operating systems to be infected with spyware without interaction from the user.

Security researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab disclosed the vulnerability dubbed "ForcedEntry" to Apple last Tuesday. The group discovered the security hole (CVE-2021-30860) while analyzing a Saudi activist's iPhone.

The "zero-click exploit" leverages an iMessages weakness that calls on Apple's image rendering library and can infect the device without any user intervention. The researchers found that the vulnerability is inherent in all three of Apple's operating systems—iOS, watchOS, and macOS.

The spyware used is the controversial Pegasus application developed by NSO Group in Israel. Citizen Lab says it believes the exploit has been in use since February but has no idea how many devices could be infected with the spyware.

Pegasus is a particularly insidious software in that it can do everything from turning on the camera and microphone to accessing device settings.

"This spyware can do everything an iPhone user can do on their device and more," John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, told The New York Times. Co-researcher Bill Marczak added, "the commercial spyware industry is going darker."

The NSO Group maintains that it only sells its spyware to government law enforcement agencies per regional laws and regulations. However, the software has turned up on the devices of non-criminal individuals, including diplomats, activists, and journalists. Additionally, Germany's state police agency came under harsh criticism last week for secretly purchasing and employing Pegasus to spy on terrorists and organized crime members.

Since learning of the exploit last Tuesday, Apple engineers have been scrambling for a fix and issued one today. Scott-Railton urges owners of any Apple device to update the operating system as soon as possible.

If you are interested in the full details of the vulnerability, Citizen Lab posted a write-up on its website. Apple also has patch notes listed on its support pages.

Image credit: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Permalink to story.

 
Am I the only one that finds the timing of this a bit suspicious, wasn't apple going to start spying on Users in the guise of "Protect the children"
 

ypsylon

Posts: 421   +357
I'm sure Jamal Khashoggi greatly appreciate of this patch...

Let's not fool ourselves. Pegasus is used WHOLESALE by every government in the World to do one thing only - imprison/kill people who are dangerous to the regime.

I don't talk about Taliban, neo-Nazis or Saudi crown prince. I'm talking NGO which feed the poor because it makes government look bad, judges which defend innocent people against the State repression, I'm talking journalists which uncover all the hideous truth behind governmental scumbaggery, etc...
 

Norsiiii

Posts: 87   +111
I'm sure Jamal Khashoggi greatly appreciate of this patch...

Let's not fool ourselves. Pegasus is used WHOLESALE by every government in the World to do one thing only - imprison/kill people who are dangerous to the regime.

I don't talk about Taliban, neo-Nazis or Saudi crown prince. I'm talking NGO which feed the poor because it makes government look bad, judges which defend innocent people against the State repression, I'm talking journalists which uncover all the hideous truth behind governmental scumbaggery, etc...
Came in to say this.

Even if NSO isn't lying when they claim to only ever sell to government law enforcement agencies (whatever they mean by that. Just cops? Or does that already include spy agencies?) you can bet your left kidney that as soon as that country's police force buys a copy it's going to suddenly and mysteriously end up in the hands of their secret intelligence agencies, who as we know only ever have the most righteous and just intentions, and would never do things outside the scope of what the general public would expect let alone do anything flagrantly unlawful, right....?? Right?!?!?

If anyone honestly believes that illegal spying and executive branch overreach (in any country) suddenly ended in the 70's after Watergate, they've got rocks in their heads
 

Nanochip

Posts: 50   +58
Apparently contrary to Apple’s assertions in the Epic trial, alternative app stores are not needed to destroy the security model of the iPhone, as Pegasus did so all on its own despite the phone being locked down. Even more insidious is that the hack worked without user intervention. Only thing I’d challenge the article on is that Apple knew about this before last Tuesday. The tech press was talking about the Pegasus exploit in July and August of this year.
 

zamroni111

Posts: 219   +142
Picture file should remains as picture file. Operating systems should discard the scripts in picture files.
 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 69   +58
NSO Group is just a very dirty company. They make money (and millions) by selling software that bypasses any of the security on these devices.

Perhaps it was NSO Group themself that reported this exploit while having a new one already in the running for larger pricings for goverments.