Apple hack alert raises government hackles

Oppn leaders get messages on bid by state-sponsored attackers to remotely access their iPhones
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks at a press conference in Delhi. (Shekhar Yadav | EPS)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks at a press conference in Delhi. (Shekhar Yadav | EPS)

NEW DELHI:  Two years after the Pegasus snoop scandal rocked Parliament, several Opposition leaders claimed on Tuesday that they received alerts from technology company Apple about ‘state-sponsored attackers trying to remotely compromise’ their iPhones.

The Centre quickly responded by ordering a thorough investigation into the matter. It will be done by CERT -in, the national nodal agency for cyber security. Those who received the warning include Mahua Moitra (TMC), Shashi Tharoor, K C Venugopal, Pawan Khera (all Congress) Priyanka Chaturvedi (Uddhav Sena) , Raghav Chadha (AAP) and Sitaram Yechury (CPM).

Sharing screenshots of the message on their ‘X’ handles, the Opposition alleged that the Modi government is targeting parties through unconstitutional means ahead of assembly and general elections. The notification said, “Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID.”

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said these were clear signs of panic and the opposition will not be cowed down by phone tapping. “This is the work of criminals and thieves,” he told a press conference. As the political slugfest intensified, Apple Inc in a statement said it does not attribute threat notifications, such as the ones received by some MPs, to any specific statesponsored attackers and that it cannot provide information on what causes such warnings.

In his pushback, Union information and technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the government will get to the bottom of these notifications. His ministry has asked Apple to join the investigation with real, accurate information on the alleged state-sponsored attacks. “The notification mentions ‘state-sponsored attacks’ on their devices. However, much of the information by Apple on this issue seems vague and non-specific in nature,” the minister noted. Experts point out that Apple launched the new alert feature about hacker attacks after the Pegasus issue in 2021.

Vaishnaw hits out at compulsive critics
Taking a swipe at the Opposition, Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw alleged that compulsive critics were indulging in “distraction politics” as they could not tolerate the country’s progress under the PM’s leadership. He added that Apple had issued such alerts in 150 countries

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The New Indian Express