Apple Alerts iPhone Users Globally to Mercenary Spyware Attacks

Sophia Taylor

By Sophia Taylor


Apple has issued warnings to iPhone users across 92 countries regarding a sophisticated “mercenary spyware attack” aimed at remotely hijacking devices.

The tech giant communicated its concerns through notifications to affected users, expressing a high level of confidence in the threats’ validity and stressing the urgency of taking protective measures.

In these alerts, Apple stated that they had “… detected that you are being targeted by a mercenary spyware attack that is trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID…” It went on to indicate the involvement of highly advanced and well-funded spyware, like the NSO Group’s Pegasus kit.

This type of malware is notorious for its capability to infiltrate devices silently and is typically deployed against a select group of high-profile targets.

Those most at risk from these espionage efforts include journalists, activists, politicians, and diplomats, likely due to the sensitive or valuable information they handle.

In response to the increasing threat, Apple has updated its spyware protection support page, notably substituting the previous “state-sponsored” terminology with “mercenary spyware.”

This change reflects the broader, ongoing nature of these threats that often see private firms developing spy tools for national entities.

To help combat these dangers, Apple recommends several immediate actions for users who receive this notification:

  • Activate Lockdown Mode to drastically minimize vulnerabilities.
  • Ensure all devices and apps, particularly messaging and cloud services, are updated to the latest versions.
  • Seek expert advice from the Digital Security Helpline at Access Now, a non-profit organization offering free technical support to vulnerable groups such as journalists and human rights defenders.

The company continues to monitor these threats closely, having sent numerous alerts across more than 150 countries since 2021.

Apple refrains from attributing these attacks to any specific perpetrators or regions due to their complex and global nature. However, for users who suspect they might be targets, follow Apple’s advice above.

Despite their efforts, Apple acknowledges the limitation of their detection capabilities, suggesting that users are proactive in safeguarding their digital environments even in the absence of direct notifications.

This proactive stance is essential as the landscape of cyber threats continues to evolve with increasing sophistication.