A recent report from Google details a cyberattack carried out against iPhones in 2023. The hackers used software developed by a Spanish company based on three “zero day” flaws.
The Threat Analysis Group of GoogleGooglea team specializing in cybersecurity, has just published a report on the commercial surveillance industry. Researchers analyze the use by governments of spywarespyware. The report notably details a campaign carried out in March 2023 targeting a number of iPhones by exploiting three critical flaws.
These are “zero day” flaws, in other words whose AppleApple was not aware of them before they were exploited. The flaws in question bear the references CVE-2023-28205, CVE-2023-28206 et CVE-2023-32409, and were not discovered and corrected by Apple until much later. Google says a Variston customer used these flaws to target iPhones in Indonesia.
Around forty companies under surveillance
Variston is a Spanish company that develops malware, and already known to Google. In this attack, hackers sent victims an SMS containing a link to an infected page. This page uses Variston’s Heliconia software platform to exploit the three vulnerabilities and infect the victim’s iPhone with spyware. Google indicates that it was unable to obtain a copy of the malware to analyze it, but that the victim was then redirected to an article by the Indonesian newspaper Pikiran Rakyat.
Researchers at Google are currently tracking around 40 companies like Variston that develop and sell spyware and platforms to exploit security vulnerabilities. They justify their activity with applicationsapplications legitimate for law enforcement or the fight against terrorism. However, researchers are concerned about the effects on freedom of expression and freedom of the press when these tools are used against journalists, activists, human rights defenders or even political opponents.
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