Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Apple is sending emergency hacking alerts to iPhones

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Apple will send emergency notifications to people under attack by government sponsored hackers.

The feature known as Apple Threat Notifications will notify users that they are being hacked and advise them what steps to take.

They are sent as email and iMessage notifications to all addresses stored with the user’s Apple ID. Users also see them when they sign in to the Apple website.

State-sponsored hacking attacks tend to be much more sophisticated than those of standard cybercriminals.

That can make them a lot harder to spot. It also means that they are typically used against high-ranking, vulnerable, or important people.

Apple advises that the recipients of the notifications are likely to be very limited and may already know that they are at risk of such attacks. “These users are addressed individually based on their identity or what they do,” says the support page.

“Unlike traditional cybercriminals, government sponsored attackers use extraordinary resources to target a very small number of specific people and their devices, making these attacks difficult to detect and prevent. Government sponsored attacks are highly complex, cost millions of dollars to develop, and often have a short shelf life.

“The vast majority of users will never be the target of such attacks.”

Apple says the complexity of the hacking it is trying to protect people from means that it will sometimes send out false positives and also not be able to send notifications of every attack.

It also states that there can’t be any detailed information about why it sent the notifications to make sure attackers couldn’t bypass them.

In a support page, which announced the new feature, all users were advised to protect themselves properly against all kinds of attacks. This includes keeping devices up to date, using a passcode, using strong passwords, only installing safe apps, and not clicking on links or attachments that are not from a trusted person.

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