Hacking attempts: Opposition leaders share iPhone alerts and report hacking attempt amid controversy, Apple reacts
Hacking attempts: Several opposition MPs, including Shashi Tharoor from the Congress, Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena (UBT), and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, have disclosed receiving messages from Apple warning of "state-sponsored attackers attempting remote compromise" of their phones. Sources revealed that three individuals in Congress MP Rahul Gandhi's office received similar alerts. Government sources acknowledged they are monitoring the situation and noted that threat detection on iPhones can be "imperfect."
According to Apple, these notifications are generated when their systems detect "activity consistent with a state-sponsored attack." The manufacturer has not yet responded to this matter.
Earlier today, several MPs, including those mentioned above, shared screenshots of the messages they received. Additional individuals, such as Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Aam Aadmi Party's Raghav Chadha, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, and the Congress' Pawan Khera, also alleged receiving hacking warnings.
Priyanka Chaturvedi expressed her concern by writing, "Wonder who? Shame on you..." and "cc-ed" Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor confirmed the email from email@example.com and added a sarcastic comment about the government's priorities. "Glad to keep underemployed officials busy at the expense of taxpayers like me! Nothing more important to do?"
Like many other MPs, Tharoor tagged the offices of Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for an investigation into the alleged hacking attempt. Another Congress leader, Pawan Khera, was more straightforward in his criticism of the government, sharing a screenshot of the message from his phone and questioning the government, "Dear Modi sarkar, why are you doing this?"
Received from an Apple ID, firstname.lastname@example.org, which I have verified. Authenticity confirmed. Glad to keep underemployed officials busy at the expenses of taxpayers like me! Nothing more important to do?@PMOIndia @INCIndia @kharge @RahulGandhi pic.twitter.com/5zyuoFmaIa — Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 31, 2023
AAP Rajya Sabha MP Chadha expressed his disapproval of the alleged hacking attempt, characterising it as an attack on the "democratic interests" and people of the country. He warned, "...Every Indian needs to be worried. Because today it is me, tomorrow it could be YOU."
Early this morning I received a concerning notification from Apple, warning me about a potential state-sponsored spyware attack on my phone. The notification states that, “If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to remotely access your… pic.twitter.com/JrVD9Zh9im — Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) October 31, 2023
The message received by the MPs reads: "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," Apple cautioned. While there is a possibility that this could be a false alarm, we strongly advise taking this warning seriously."
Amit Malviya, the head of the BJP's IT Cell, swiftly countered the allegations and criticised the "usual suspects" for their reaction.
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? — Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) October 31, 2023
"Usual suspects raising a storm over the 'state-sponsored' attack and portraying themselves as martyrs is to be expected..."
"But most likely, as it has in the past, all this commotion will fizzle out. Why not wait for Apple to provide clarification? Or is it too irresistible to pass up an opportunity for outrage?" he posted on X.
Apple issued a statement after several Opposition leaders claimed they received a threat alert saying, "State-sponsored attackers may be targeting your iPhone." Apple said it doesn't attribute threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker and some alerts may be false alarms. Apple didn't reveal what causes it to send threat notifications as it may help attackers evade detection.
- With inputs from agencies