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Latest Apple Software Update Will Fix A Security Flaw Spyware Used To Access Devices

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And if you have an iPhone or iPad, you are likely among the 1 1/2 billion people who should download an emergency software update to your device. Apple issued the update to its iOS yesterday because devices were vulnerable to a military-grade spyware that could infiltrate devices even without users clicking on a link or downloading malicious software.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

This zero-click technology is employed by spyware called Pegasus. It's made by an Israeli-based company called NSO Group. And needless to say, Apple consumers are worried.

DREW HARWELL: It's a big blow. Like, Apple has been marketing that they are the privacy company for years.

CHANG: Drew Harwell covers tech for The Washington Post, and he says Apple's update advisory was shocking given how much money the company invests in security.

HARWELL: If you're a $2 trillion company and you are advertising yourself as the choice for privacy for people around the world, you've got to wonder, should they be spending more toward keeping people's phones safe and secure?

KELLY: NSO Group was able to market its Pegasus software to governments and law enforcement groups to help combat terrorism and crime. But as Harwell and a consortium of journalists have reported, researchers at the University of Toronto found out about these zero-click hacks because they targeted people who shouldn't have been under this kind of surveillance.

HARWELL: The people we've seen that have been targeted by this spyware have been human rights activists, lawyers, dissidents, journalists.

CHANG: While not everyone with an iPhone or Apple device has been hacked, Harwell says this spyware is still targeting people.

HARWELL: We did some reporting that found, you know, a list of tens of thousands of numbers that may have been, you know, potentially targeted by Pegasus spyware. And it's really changed their life. I mean, it's gathered sensitive data about them. It scares them even to this day, so...

CHANG: So if you haven't already, you can download Apple's patch under settings, then go to general, then software update. Harwell says it may take a few minutes, but it will likely be a few minutes well-spent. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.