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Apple sues company known for hacking iPhones on behalf of governments

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address during the 2020 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) at Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.

Brooks Kraft/Apple Inc/Handout via Reuters

Apple has sued NSO Group, an Israeli firm that sells software to government agencies and law enforcement that allows them to hack iPhones and read the data on them, including messages and other communications.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International said it discovered recent-model iPhones belonging to journalists and human rights lawyers that had been infected with NSO Group malware.

Apple said on Tuesday in an announcement that the attacks were only targeted at a small number of customers, and said on Tuesday that it would inform iPhone users that may have been targeted by the software, which it calls FORCEDENTRY.

Apple said on Tuesday it had patched the flaws that allowed the NSO Group software to access private data on iPhones with what are “zero-click” attacks where the malware is delivered through a text message. Apple is seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple software, services, or devices.

“To deliver FORCEDENTRY to Apple devices, attackers created Apple IDs to send malicious data to a victim’s device — allowing NSO Group or its clients to deliver and install Pegasus spyware without a victim’s knowledge,” Apple said in its announcement. “Though misused to deliver FORCEDENTRY, Apple servers were not hacked or compromised in the attacks.”

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