Updating iphone to new software issues

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple issued a security update to prevent attacks by rare, highly expensive spyware that exploits flaws in the mobile operating system for i Phones and i Pads, after security researchers said it was used to target a Middle Eastern dissident's phone.

In a statement to USA TODAY Thursday, Apple said it immediately fixed the vulnerability upon learning of it.

It advises customers to download the latest version of its i OS, version 9.3.5, for security protection. The espionage software was discovered because it had been targeted at Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent United Arab Emirates dissident.

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He had been the victim of spyware in the past and so forwarded the message to researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab.

Researchers there worked with San Francisco-based mobile security firm Lookout.

In a blog post Thursday on its website, Lookout researchers said they found a “sophisticated, targeted, and persistent mobile attack on i OS using three zero-day vulnerabilities we call ‘Trident.’”The flaw lets the hacker break into an i OS device and spy on information gleaned from the victims' apps such as Facebook, Whats App, Face Time, Gmail and Calendar, the post said."As security breaches go, this is fairly serious, considering how fast Apple addressed it," says Andrew Blaich, a staff researcher at Lookout.

Citizen Lab traced the link to NSO Group, which it calls a “cyberwar” company in Israel that sells a spyware product called Pegasus, said John Scott-Railton, one of the Citizen Lab report's authors.

NSO would not comment on whether it had sold the software.

“NSO’s mission is to help make the world a safer place, by providing authorized governments with technology that helps them combat terror and crime,” said Zamir Dahbash, NSO spokesman, in a statement to USA TODAY.The company only sells its software to authorized governmental agencies and requires customers to sign an agreement that its products will only be used in a lawful manner, specifically “the prevention and investigation of crimes,” he said.NSO Group is reportedly owned by an American venture capital firm, Francisco Partners Management, according to Citizen Lab. COSTLY GEARThe cost of such sophisticated spyware is very high.A set of similar digital tools recently sold for million, Citizen Lab's Scott-Railton and his co-author, Bill Marczak, wrote in an online report posted Thursday.The Internet watchdog group discovered the security hole a few weeks ago and immediately notified Apple, Lookout's Blaich said.Human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor shows Associated Press journalists a screenshot of a spoof text message he received in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, Aug. Mansoor was recently targeted by spyware that can hack into Apple's i Phone handset.

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