Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky detects targeted iPhone spyware attack

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3rd June 2023 – (Moscow) Kaspersky Lab, a major Russian cybersecurity company, announced on Thursday that it had uncovered a sophisticated targeted cyberattack on its employees’ iPhones. According to the company, several dozen staff members’ devices were infected with spyware that secretly monitored the phones and transmitted private data to unknown third-party servers.

Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of Kaspersky Lab, said in a blog post that the infected iPhones received an “invisible iMessage” containing malicious software. The message exploited vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system to install the spyware, which then accessed the microphone, camera, geolocation, and messaging apps on the devices without users’ knowledge.

Kaspersky researchers first detected suspicious network activity coming from staff iPhones while monitoring the company’s Wi-Fi network earlier this year. Upon investigation, the researchers found that the phones had been compromised by spyware that Kaspersky called “extremely technologically sophisticated.”

The discovery comes after Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, claimed in September that thousands of iPhones in Russia had been infected with previously unknown spyware, which Apple had allegedly cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies to develop and deploy. Apple denied the allegations, stating that it does not assist any government in creating backdoors into its products and services.

Kaspersky did not attribute the attack to any actor or provide details about the spyware’s origin or capabilities beyond monitoring and exfiltration. However, the targeting of Kaspersky employees suggests the attack may have been an attempt to gain access to the company’s cybersecurity research and technologies. Kaspersky Lab has faced scrutiny over suspected ties to Russian intelligence, though the company denies any inappropriate links.