The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has advised Apple users in the country to upgrade their devices’ operating system (iOS) with the latest patches iOS 14.8 to guard against dangerous spyware known as Pegasus.
This followed the issuance of a software patch by Apple to block so-called “zero-click” spyware that could infect iPhones and iPads.
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Some independent researchers had identified the flaw, which lets hackers access the devices through the iMessage service even if users do not click on a link or file.
The problem affects all of the technology giant’s operating systems, the researchers said.
But Apple said it issued the security update in response to a “maliciously crafted” PDF file.
The tech company said in a blog post that it had issued the iOS 14.8 and iPadOS 14.8 software patches after it became aware of a report that the flaw “may have been actively exploited.
However, NITDA, in a memo on Wednesday, urged all Apple device users in Nigeria to take caution and upgrade their devices’ operating system.
In the memo signed by its Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Hajia Hadiza Umar, NITDA warned users of harm the spyware could cause to their personal data if the upgrade is not done.
It said Apple users should go to their devices’ settings and upgrade “immediately” to guard against attacks by hackers.
BBC reports that the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which first highlighted the issue, had previously found evidence of zero-click spyware, but “this is the first one where the exploit has been captured so we can find out how it works,” said researcher Bill Marczak.
The researchers said that the previously unknown vulnerability affected all major Apple devices, including iPhones, Macs and Apple Watches.
Citizen Lab, according to the BBC, also said the security issue was exploited to plant spyware on a Saudi activist’s iPhone, adding that it had high confidence that the Israeli hacker-for-hire firm, NSO Group, was behind that attack.
BBC also quoted unnamed security experts as saying that although the discovery is significant, most users of Apple devices should not be overly concerned as such attacks are usually highly targeted.