Apple notified iPhone users in more than 90 countries about potential spyware attacks over text today (11 April).

While Apple did not name the potential whereabouts or identities of attackers, it stated to affected customers that it had detected that they were being tracked by spyware. 

“This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do. Although it’s never possible to achieve absolute certainty when detecting such attacks, Apple has high confidence in this warning – please take it seriously,” the text read. 

While concerning, these texts are not unique and according to Apple it has sent similar warnings to iPhone users in more than 150 countries since 2021. 

On its support page, Apple insists that the majority of iPhone users will not be affected or targeted by spyware attacks, which are significantly more complex than regular malware attacks. 

Apple explained that spyware attacks were typically carried out by state actors and private companies acting on behalf of a country, rather than individual bad actors, giving Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus software as an example. 

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Activists, journalists, diplomats and political figures were all named by Apple as potential targets for spyware attacks. 

Due to the high cost and sophistication of spyware attacks, Apple stated that it does not attribute the identified attacks to a specific region or group of attackers. 

Associate professor at the University of Oxford in the UK Jonathan Lusthaus recently co-authored a World Cybercrime Index alongside the University of New South Wales in Australia, attempting to identify global cybercrime hotspots. 

“Due to the illicit and anonymous nature of their activities, cybercriminals cannot be easily accessed or reliably surveyed. They are actively hiding,” he stated, referring to the process of collecting and analysing data for the study. 

“If you try to use technical data to map their location, you will also fail, as cybercriminals bounce their attacks around internet infrastructure across the world,” he said.