Zero-click iPhone Exploit Abused to Launch NSO Spyware Attacks.

Zero-click iPhone Exploit Abused to Launch NSO Spyware Attacks.

According to the company, Citizen Lab's digital threat researchers have discovered a new zero-click iMessage exploit that can be used to install NSO Group malware on iPhones belonging to Catalan legislators, journalists, and activists.

HOMAGE is a previously unknown zero-click security flaw in iOS that affects some operating system versions before iOS 13.2. (the newest stable iOS version is 15.4).

Between 2017 and 2020, they used to use it in a campaign that targeted at least 65 people with NSO's Pegasus spyware, the Kismet iMessage exploit, and a WhatsApp flaw, according to the report.


Picture: itpro

Catalan Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Catalan lawmakers, jurists, journalists, members of civil society organizations, and their families were named victims of civil society organizations these attacks by Citizen Lab.

Pegasus targets Catalan politicians. According to reports, Pegasus has reportedly targeted Catalan politicians, a new mobile security threat targeting iOS devices. 

Citizen Lab's cybersecurity researchers discovered a new zero-click exploit in iMessage, the iPhone's native texting application. They used the new exploit to install Pegasus, a well-known spyware program from the dreaded NSO Group.

Although the team admits that they cannot be certain, they believe that individuals from Spain were behind the attack. Catalonia, a region in the nation's northeast that seeks freedom from the Spanish crown, is believed to be the motivation for the attack. 

NSO Group Strikes Again

NSO Group is an Israeli technology startup well-known for selling ransomware and spyware to governments worldwide, including the United States. It has been criticized for its role in violating human rights. It has been particularly true in the case of politicians, journalists, and civil rights activists.


Picture: hackread

Catalan MEPs, every Catalan president since 2010, legislators, law professors, journalists, and members of civil society organizations and their families, appear to have had Pegasus installed on their computers. Pegasus is a malware program. They use it to infect computers.

HOMAGE has been dubbed the newly discovered zero-day exploit, and it is said to be limited to iPhone devices running iOS 13.2 or earlier versions of iOS. 

"We did not discover any examples of the HOMAGE exploit used against a device running an iOS version greater than 13.1.3 among Catalan targets. We patched the exploit in iOS 13.2. "Citizen Lab made the statement.

The researchers have deployed no zero-day or zero-click exploits against Catalan targets since iOS 13.1.3 and before iOS 13.5.1.

The researchers are baffled as to who is responsible for the attack, but they suspect members of the Spanish government.

In a statement, Citizen Lab stated that "while the Citizen Lab does not definitively attribute these hacking operations to any particular government, a growing body of circumstantial evidence indicates that these hacking operations have a strong nexus with one or more entities within the Spanish government." 

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Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira is ProductReviews's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology.