The exploits had been used by UAE to target one of its citizens, a human rights defender.
By quickly responding to three unknown 0-day exploits Apple has demonstrated that it can and will respond to emerging threats on a priority basis.
Having been informed by Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights activist based out of the United Arab Emirates, Apple promptly rolled out a patch for three previously unknown 0-day exploits that had been used to target Ahmed Mansoor iPhone 6 smartphone.
According to Lookout, a security company and Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog, both of who investigated the attack on Mansoor’s iPhone, it appears that the attack stemmed from a product of the NSO Group, a “cyber war” organization based in Israel which specializing in creating government-exclusive spywares, called Pegasus.
The attempted hack tried to leverage exploits from three 0-day vulnerabilities which could have potentially allowed the attacker to jailbreak his iPhone and install spyware which could log his from WhatsApp and Viber, track his movement in realtime, and even gain access to his microphone and cameras.
As luck would have it, instead of clicking on the attack link, Mansoor instead alerted the Citizen Lab researchers.
Given the fact that iPhone zero-day exploits cost a bomb, along with the fact that the spyware deployed to launch the attack was a government specific product, Citizen Lab believes that the UAE was behind the attack.
The UAE government has previously targeted Mansoor.
“We are not aware of any previous instance of an iPhone remote jailbreak used in the wild as part of a targeted attack campaign, making this a rare find,” writes Citizen Lab.
Having discovered the three 0-day exploits, Citizen Lab when on to contact Apple who promptly responded to the call and patched the vulnerabilities with an update, yesterday.