Apple Alerts Indian Opposition Leaders to State-Sponsored Hacking

Allegations of state-sponsored hacking raise political tensions in India. Apple issues alerts amid privacy concerns.

Apple has sent alert messages to several opposition leaders in India, saying that their iPhones have been targeted by “state-sponsored attackers”. The leaders have blamed the government for trying to spy on them and violate their privacy.

The leaders who received the alerts are from the ‘INDIA’ alliance, a group of parties that oppose the ruling BJP. The coalition includes TMC MP Mahua Moitra, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera, and Shiv Sena UBT leader Priyanka Chaturvedi.
They shared screenshots of the Apple messages on social media and accused the government of being behind the hacking attempts. They said the government was trying to intimidate them and silence their criticism.
Mahua Moitra, whom Parliament has summoned for allegedly taking money from a businessman, said other leaders from the INDIA alliance had also received similar warnings from Apple.

Shashi Tharoor, also the head of the IT committee in Parliament, said that he had checked the Apple message and asked why the government was wasting money on such activities. He said that he had raised the issue of phone tapping and surveillance in Parliament many times.

Pawan Khera and Priyanka Chaturvedi also expressed anger over the hacking alerts and asked whether the Home Ministry would investigate the matter.
The government has not officially responded to the allegations of hacking by the opposition leaders. However, some BJP leaders have dismissed them as false and made up.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, who had filed a complaint against Mahua Moitra for allegedly taking money from a businessman, said she was lying about the hacking alert and trying to divert attention from her corruption case.
Sambit Patra, the BJP spokesperson, also mocked the opposition leaders for claiming to be hacked by state actors and said that they were suffering from “paranoia” and “hallucination”.

Apple is a leading smartphone maker in the world and has a reputation for providing high security and privacy features to its users. Apple says it protects its users from malicious attacks using encryption, authentication, and other technologies.

Apple also says it sends alert messages to its users when it detects any unusual activity or potential threat on their devices or accounts. These messages may warn users about phishing attempts, unauthorized logins, or state-sponsored attacks.

According to Apple, state-sponsored attacks are very complex and costly operations that target a minimal number of specific individuals and their devices. Governments or organizations do these attacks with very high resources and capabilities. Apple says that such attacks will never target most users.

Pegasus is a spyware tool made by an Israeli company called NSO Group. It can infect smartphones without users’ knowledge and access all their data, including messages, contacts, photos, videos, emails, calls, location, microphone, camera, and more. It can also bypass encryption and security features of popular apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, etc.

Pegasus is sold only to “vetted governments” for law enforcement and counter-terrorism purposes. However, there have been many reports of misuse and abuse of Pegasus by some governments to spy on journalists, activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, politicians, dissidents, and other critics.

This is not the first time Pegasus has been linked to surveillance in India. In 2019, there was an outcry in India and other countries after WhatsApp confirmed that some of its users were targeted with Pegasus spyware. A total of 121 users from India were among nearly 50,000 selected worldwide as possibly of interest to clients of the NSO Group, according to an investigation by a group

according to an investigation by a group of media organizations.

The Indian users who were affected by the breach included activists, scholars, journalists, lawyers, and others who were working on issues such as human rights, civil liberties, environmental justice, and caste discrimination.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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