Last week, a report from Reuters revealed that there was not just one, but two Israeli surveillance firms that exploited a flaw in Apple’s software to spy on iPhone users last year. In addition to the previously known NSO Group, a lesser-known organization called QuaDream also discovered and abused the same weakness in iOS.
About the report
In the report, Reuters spoke to five individuals with knowledge of the incident, which involved both NSO Group and QuaDream remotely breaking into individual’s iPhones, thereby gaining access to user information without the user ever opening any malicious links. According to The Hacker News:
“The zero-click exploit in question is FORCEDENTRY, a flaw in iMessage that could be leveraged to circumvent iOS security protections and install spyware that allowed attackers to scoop up a wealth of information such as contacts, emails, files, messages, and photos, as well as access to the phone’s camera and microphone.
QuaDream’s spyware, named REIGN, functions in a manner similar to NSO Group’s Pegasus, granting its users full control of the device.”
Both NSO Group and QuaDream’s software programs have been purchased by foreign governments such as Saudia Arabia, Mexico, and Singapore. Last week, the FBI also confirmed that the US government purchased a license to use NSO Group’s software and had been testing it for years, believing that it would prove useful in “domestic surveillance.” However, in 2021, the agency ultimately decided against its use.
The future of ForcedEntry
Currently, Apple is involved in a lawsuit against NSO Group over ForcedEntry, but it is unknown whether the company will take any action against QuaDream now that its exploitation has also come to light. At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, Apple also alerted thousands of iPhone users that had been targeted by the spyware attack, including human rights workers, journalists, and elected officials across the globe.