If you are concerned about recent reports of Pegasus spyware allegedly installed by the Israeli group NSO to hack journalists and world leaders, there is a tool to check if it is hidden on your iPhone. But you probably have nothing to worry about.
According to a report by the Washington Post in conjunction with non-profit groups Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and several others, military-grade spyware developed by an Israeli company was used to hack some 40 smartphones “belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. ”
The phones appeared on a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers, according to the publication. NSO has denied the allegations.
Your iPhone is most likely not on that list. While the legality of the operation may be in doubt, reports say the NSO apparently targeted high-level politicians, government officials and journalists in the operation and they were only successful less than half the time. For example, Amnesty International examined 67 phones and found that “23 were successfully infected and 14 showed signs of attempted penetration”. Of these, almost all were iPhones, according to the research.
But if you are concerned, there is a way to test if your iPhone has been attacked. It is not an easy test, but if you are using a Mac or Linux PC and have backed up your iPhone using it, Amnesty International’s mobile verification toolkit will be able to detect if your phone has Pegasus spyware installed. . The tool, which TechCrunch tested, works with the MacOS Terminal application and looks for the latest backup of your iPhone on your Mac, “it is not a polished and refined user experience and requires some basic knowledge of how to navigate the terminal.” You will need to install libusb and Python 3 with Homebrew. (You can get more information about the installation here). TechCrunch says that the verification only takes “about a minute or two to run” once it has been configured.
On twitter, @rayredacted detailed the process in a long thread with additional resources and explanations.
As you may have heard, @amnesty has launched mat-detect. an amazing tool to detect if your device has evidence that it may have been touched by Pegasus spyware. In this thread I am going to tell you about my experience and lessons using this tool on iOS. (1/13) pic.twitter.com/pJRTv4FVPf
– Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedacted) July 21, 2021
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology dates back to his first PC: the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard to change the drive. Still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.