Israeli spyware firms NSO Group and QuaDream have both weaponized a recent iPhone bug. QuaDream, a low-profile Israeli surveillance technology company, develops smartphone hacking tools that are intended to be used by Government clients. NSO Group is an Israeli technology firm primarily known for its proprietary spyware Pegasus, which is capable of remote zero-click surveillance of smartphones.
Similarities between QuaDream and NSO Group
Some sources have noted that NSO Group and QuaDream’s exploits were similar, because they leveraged many of the same vulnerabilities hidden inside Apple’s instant messaging app. The exploits were so identical that when Apple fixed the underlying flaws, it rendered both NSO Group and QuaDream’s software ineffective. Both firms had used the zero-click exploitation tool to gain entry into their victim’s phone.
How do zero-click exploits work?
Zero-click exploits seem somewhat simple to carry out, as the threat actor does not need to plant phishing simulations or click bait. In most cases, the threat actor designs the vulnerability on specific target applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Skype. They can be in the form of:
- Text messages
- Authentication Requests
- Phone calls
Keeping your phone safe
Before the fix was installed by Apple, self-described data breach hunter Chris Vickery advised that “there’s absolutely nothing you can do to protect your phone”. However, keeping your software updated is the easiest way to defend yourself from attacks, as companies release fixes via updates, once they discover new vulnerabilities. Our advice is to:
- Keep your phone updated, as newer updates come with different security patches against these vulnerabilities.
- Be cautious when installing a new application and vigilant about permissions.
- Do not jail break your device as it reduces the efficiency of your controls and the safety restrictions that come built-in to your device.
For more information on how to keep your phone safe from exploitation tools, contact us at Agilient.
Author: Mahdi Kobeissi, Agilient Consultant