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What is the Apple Mercenary Attack, and Why Should You Care?

What is the Apple Mercenary Attack, and Why Should You Care?

Apple rarely sends out alerts about threats, and that is because threats that target Apple devices are somewhat rare in the first place. However, on April 10, 2024, Apple saw fit to send one to certain users in 92 nations by email. These notifications were “designed to inform and assist users who may have been individually targeted by mercenary spyware attacks.” What does this mean, exactly?

Understanding Mercenary Attacks

Your typical cyberattack might be launched without any specific target in mind. Mercenary attacks, however, will be backed by millions of dollars and target a small group of victims. The threat notification email states, “This attack is likely targeting you specifically because of who you are or what you do.”

The email also states what this attack will likely do: "If your device is compromised by a targeted mercenary spyware attack, the attacker may be able to remotely access your sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone."

Has Apple Addressed the Problem?

For starters, Apple has created a support page explaining what users should do if they think the threat has infected their device. This page consists of various best practices:

  • “Update devices to the latest software, as that includes the latest security fixes
  • Protect devices with a passcode
  • Use two-factor authentication and a strong password for Apple ID [we just want to add you should do this with all accounts]
  • Install apps from the App Store [all Android users should only utilize the Google Play store]
  • Use strong and unique passwords online
  • Don’t click on links or attachments from unknown senders”

Apple has also suggested that users who think they might be targeted turn on Lockdown Mode, a setting that limits the device to specific functions and reduces the likelihood of an attack from these types of threats.

While we certainly hope you don’t get struck by these attacks, we want to raise awareness and ensure that as many people know about them as possible. Follow our blog for more notifications of high-profile threats and all things related to business IT.

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