Security breach in iPhones exposes Al Jazeera journalists

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A vulnerability present about a year ago in iMessage would have allowed access to passwords, microphone audio and even iPhones cameras by 37 journalists, most of them from Al Jazeera, a broadcaster from Qatar and the most important television network in the Arab world.

Canadian Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity research group, revealed that the digital espionage campaign was undertaken by a group dubbed Kismet and that the hacking via the instant messaging service developed by Apple would have left no trace.

Four operators originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would be involved in the scheme, although it is not known, exactly, what the motivations of the actions would be. Governments would be behind at least two agents.

Anyway, the flaw doesn’t seem to work on iOS 14, the latest version of the Apple company’s operating system.

What do those involved say?

Rania Dridi, from the Al Araby network, believes he was one of the targets due to his discussions on women’s rights and his connection with a critic from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Another professional would have received spyware links like those used to spy on Ahmed Mansoor in 2016, an activist from the United Arab Emirates.

Claiming to investigate any instance where there is “credible evidence of misuse” by its customers, the NSO Group, the owner of the software intended for the prosecution of criminals, but which was used in the attacks, said it was unaware of the Citizen Lab’s allegations and stressed no have access to victims’ data.

Apple, for its part, stresses the need to keep operating systems always up to date, as such care would avoid what it considered a highly targeted attack. In addition, it would depend on the collaboration of the Citizen Lab for a more detailed verification of the case.

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