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  • Parv Jain

Apple Updates Policy to Remove 'State-Sponsored' Label from Alerts


Apple Inc. has told its users in India and 91 other countries that they might have been attacked by spyware, a kind of harmful software. Unlike before, Apple didn't use the term "state-sponsored," which means attacks backed by governments. They found out that hackers tried to break into iPhones from far away. Apple had earlier mentioned on its website that its warnings were to help people who might be attacked by hackers supported by governments.

Apple recently updated its website to say that its warnings are meant to help users who might have been targeted by spyware attacks for hire. They mentioned that these kinds of attacks are often linked to governments or private companies making spyware for governments, like the Pegasus spyware made by the Israeli company NSO Group.

Apple stopped using the term "state-sponsored" to describe warnings about hacking attacks. This change happened after India's government pushed back on such claims, according to someone who knows about the situation. Some politicians in India, who oppose the government, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration tried to hack their phones. This came after Apple had warned about government-backed hacking attacks in October.

Before sending out the latest warnings, Apple talked a lot with officials from India, someone familiar with the matter said. It's unknown if other countries also had issues with this. Neither Apple nor the Indian government quickly replied to requests for comments on this topic. The warning email explained that attacks by spyware for hire are uncommon and much more advanced than the usual hacking or harmful software.

Apple has been sending these warning messages several times every year since 2021, according to the email. Up to now, they've informed users in over 150 countries about these risks.


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