Several opposition leaders on Tuesday claimed they had received an alert from Apple warning them of ‘state-sponsored attackers trying to remotely compromise’ their iPhones and posted purported screenshots of the message on their X handles.
Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra, , Aam Aadmi Party’s Raghav Chadha, Congress’ Shashi Tharoor and his party’s media and publicity department head Pawan Khera shared the message from Apple on X. CPI(M)general secretary Sitaram Yechury also received a similar message, sources in the party said.
Responding to the opposition leaders, BJP’s Amit Malviya said in a post on X, ‘Usual suspects raising a storm over ‘state sponsored’ attack and pretending to be martyrs is all good… But this hullabaloo, in all probability, like in the past, will end up as damp squib! “Why not wait for Apple to clarify? Or is it too much to let go an opportunity to outrage?/
‘Received text and email from Apple warning me that the government trying to hack into my phone and email. @HMOIndia — get a life. Adani and PMO bullies – your fear makes me pity you,’ Trinamul Congress MP Moitra said while sharing some screenshots on social media.
Tagging Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, she claimed three other leaders of the opposition INDIA alliance have received similar messages.
Chaturvedi also shared a similar screenshot which she claimed to have received from Apple and said, ‘Wonder who? Shame on you. Cc: @HMOIndia for your kind attention.’
Replying to Moitra’s post, she said, ‘So not just me but also @MahuaMoitra has received this warning from Apple. Will @HMOIndia investigate?’
Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Tharoor put out a similar post.
‘Received from an Apple ID, HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”email@example.com, which I have verified. Authenticity confirmed. Glad to keep underemployed officials busy at the expenses of taxpayers like me! Nothing more important to do?’ he said on X, tagging the Prime Minister’s Office, the Congress, party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi.
Sharing the same screenshot, Khera said, ‘Dear Modi Sarkar, why are you doing this?’ AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said in a long post that he had received a ‘concerning notification from Apple’ warning him about a a potential state-sponsored spyware attack on his phone.
‘I use my smartphone to perform my parliamentary duties — engage with members of my constituency, address requests and provide assistance. I also use it to question the dictatorial practices of the Central Government. It is also an instrument used by me to communicate with my party colleagues, workers and volunteers for elections. I use it to coordinate my media appearances too. It is also a device I use to discuss legal strategies with lawyers in several of my ongoing litigations,’ he said.
Chadha called it an attack on the ‘democratic interests’ of the country, and on the people of the country.
‘Hence, not only my smartphone but the democratic interests of our country have come under attack. This notification is reminiscent of the Pegasus spyware scandal which also had targeted many voices that are critical of the BJP. Even in this attack, I am not the only opposition leader who has been attacked. Multiple voices of the opposition have been targeted,’ he said.
The ‘snooping’, Chadha said, was happening merely months away from a general election and must be placed within the broader attacks on the opposition.
‘…Every Indian needs to be worried. Because today it is me, tomorrow it could be YOU,’ he added. The message shared by the MPs stated, ‘ALERT: State-sponsored attackers may be targeting your iPhone.’
‘Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID. These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do. If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to remotely access your sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone. While it’s possible this is a false alarm, please take this warning seriously,’ it stated.
Apple on Tuesday issued a statement after the opposition leaders’ protests.
‘Apple does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker. State-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time. Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete,’ the statement read.
‘It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected. We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behaviour to evade detection in the future.’ the Apple statement added.
The Centre has ordered a probe into the matter, said Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw, while addressing the press on October 31.
‘The government is concerned about this issue and it will get to the bottom of it. We have already ordered investigation into it,’ Vaishnaw noted.
Vaishnaw, while noting that the government is ‘concerned'”‘ over the matter, said ‘“’much of information by Apple on this issue seems vague and non-specific in nature.
‘Apple states these notifications maybe based on information which is ‘incomplete or imperfect’. It also states that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms or some attacks are not detected,’ the minister pointed out, citing the statement issued by the tech giant.
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