We could start this piece by saying ‘not again’ for the 3rd time in the last two months, but honestly we’re just growing to accept that nothing is safe anymore. First one to drink the Koolaid wins!
A recent discovery of not one, not two, but three major security flaws has put security researchers within Apple on high alert. Details are understandably being kept quiet, but this is yet another blow to the perceived safety of smartphones. And cars if you count the Volkswagen breach, game over man!
Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights lawyer, received text messages apparently promising to reveal secrets regarding torture practices in the United Arab Emirates jails, if he were to click the link. Anyone who has seen a modern thriller, or any episode of the Twilight Zone should know better than to make a deal with the proverbial devil. Mansoor chose the smart option, and reported the texts.
If he had chosen to unravel the mysteries of the text by following a link the within the text his iPhone would have been open to a number of unauthorised software. This would quickly turn his phone into a portable and fashionable techno spy, logging messages, taking audio recordings and video resources when in use. All in all, that would suck.
This information comes from the lovely folks over at Citizen Lab and Lookout, both security firms involved in working out what the hell happened. It is their belief that the software was created by the NSO Group, a bunch of no good professional hackers with a tendency to sell dangerously potent cyber tools to governments.
The NSO Group is founded on discovering very rare flaws within security software, before such flaws are discovered and fixed. It is extremely rare for anything to pass the keen eyes of software developers, but when it does happen there is a vicious race to exploit the breach via blackmail, trading and spying.
The problem has been fixed by Apple after only 10 days of hard work, so all those human rights lawyers with a thirst for government secrets can rest easy, you are safe now. Just don’t click on any links from someone you don’t know, unless they say there is lots of money/ a complimentary duffel bags of sweets involved.