In the latest installment of this seemingly ongoing tale, Google uncovered (for the second time in a month) security flaws in Apple’s iOS, which put thousands of users at risk of inadvertently installing spyware on their iPhones. For two years.
Google’s team of hackers – working on Project Zero – say the cyberattack occurred when Apple users visited a seemingly genuine webpage, with the spyware then installing itself on their phones. It was capable of then sending the user’s texts, emails, photos, real-time location, contacts, account details (you get the picture) almost instantaneously back to the perpetrators of the hack (which some reports suggest was a nation state). The hack wasn’t limited to Apple apps either, with reports the malware was able to extract data from WhatsApp, GoogleMaps and Gmail.
For us, the scare factor goes beyond data from our smart devices inadvertently revealing secret locations, or being used against us in court – the data and information the cyberspies could have had access to could wreak absolute havoc on the everyday iPhone users’ (and, the people whose details they have in their phones) lives.
We’re talking about this in past tense because while it was only discovered by Project Zero recently, Apple reportedly fixed the vulnerability without much ado in February this year, by releasing a software update.
So how do you protect yourself from being spied on? It seems there’s no sure-fire way to entirely prevent yourself from becoming a victim, or, if you were a victim of this particular attack, to mitigate the damage. But, according to Apple, “keeping your software up to date is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your Apple product’s security”. We might not be ignoring those pesky “a new update is available for your phone” messages, anymore.