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Apple fixes security flaw after UAE dissident's iPhone targeted

The Apple logo hangs from the front of the new Apple Store Williamsburg in?Brooklyn, New York, US. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION San Francisco, CA, United States Aug 26, 2016, 05.18 AM (IST)

Apple Inc on Thursday issued a patch to fix the security flaw with its iPhones and iPads following an attempt to hack the phone of a United Arab Emirates (UAE) dissident.

Human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor had received a text asking him to click on a link. Mansoor instead of clicking the link forwarded the message to researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

The hack was found to be capable of remotely taking over a fully updated iPhone 6.

"Once infected, Mansoor’s phone would have become a digital spy in his pocket, capable of employing his iPhone’s camera and microphone to snoop on activity in the vicinity of the device, recording his WhatsApp and Viber calls, logging messages sent in mobile chat apps, and tracking his movements," Citizen Lab wrote in a report released on Thursday.

The company has now developed a fix and distributed it as an automatic update to iPhone 6 owners.

The attack softwarre was attributed to a private seller of monitoring systems, NSO Group, an Israeli company.

NSO spokesman Zamir Dahbash said that the company "cannot confirm the specific cases" covered in the Citizen Lab and Lookout reports.

Citizen Lab did not directly accuse UAE of carrying out the attack on Mansoor but it said that other NSO attacks on critics of the regime were connected to the government.

It also said that a Mexican journalist and a minority party politician in Kenya had been targeted with NSO software too and that domain names set up for other attacks referred to entities in Uzbekistan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other nations.

The market for government hacking tools has come under increased scrutiny recently.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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