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Apple warns Russian journalists their phones may be targets of a state-sponsored attack.

Journalist Galina Timchenko speaking at a podium.
Apple sent an alert to Galina Timchenko's phone warning her of a possible Pegasus spyware attack.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
  • Russia appears to be targeting journalists with spyware known as Pegasus.

  • Pegasus is a "zero-click" software, hacking phones by sending texts that don't need to be opened.

  • The software has targeted dozens of journalists, activists, and politicians in recent years.

Earlier this summer, Russian journalist Galina Timchenko received a troubling alert from Apple: Her iPhone might have been the target of a state-sponsored spyware attack.

Tech and privacy experts later said they believed that Timchenko, leader of independent media outlet Meduza, had been targeted by the "zero-click" spyware Pegasus, The New York Times reported.

This would mark the first reported instance of Russian state officials targeting a journalist with Pegasus spyware, which has the ability to hack iPhones by sending iMessages that work without users even clicking on them, the Times reported.

Several other journalists affiliated with independent Russian media outlets reported receiving similar warnings from Apple on Thursday, according to the Times. One of these journalists — Yevegny Erlich — even warned his sources to stop contacting him with information after receiving the alert.

In 2021, Amnesty International and several other organizations reported that clients around the world used the software to hack phones belonging to dozens of journalists, activists, politicians, and business executives, Insider previously reported.

NSO Group, the Israeli company that created Pegasus, has denied Amnesty's report.

Later that same year, a report revealed several US State Department employees living in or focusing on Uganda had also been hacked by the software, Insider reported.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for NSO told Insider that the company only provides its technologies to allies of the United States and Israel.

"NSO only sells its technologies to allies of the US and Israel and always investigates credible allegations of misuse, taking prompt action if warranted," the NSO spokesperson wrote.

Correction: September 18, 2023 — An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that Apple warned its users that their phones had been targeted by the Pegasus software. Apple only warned that the phones may be compromised. Experts later said they believed the software used in the attacks was Pegasus.

Read the original article on Business Insider