Is This Apple Notification the Worst of All Time?

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Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images) – If you’ve been targeted by state-sponsored hackers, Apple has declared that it will notify you. Have you ever questioned whether the government has your back? The good news is that if you have an iPhone you can now keep up with that terrible information.

In a statement, Apple said it would alert consumers if their devices had been compromised by “state-sponsored” threat actors. If true, the decision seems to have been at least partly influenced by recent hacking scandals involving Israeli spyware company NSO Group, which has been linked to several cases of surreptitious iPhone snooping.

Tuesday, Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO and its parent firm, in an attempt to “hold it responsible for the monitoring and targeting of Apple users,” according to the company. A separate but related lawsuit has been brought against NSO by Facebook and Meta for its participation in hacking WhatsApp users.

There is a silver lining to the virus dealer’s weird shit: Apple has implemented a new notification policy. From now on, Apple says impacted customers will get alerts through email and iMessage; they will also receive a “threat notice” on their Apple ID homepage that looks like this:

Screenshot: Lucas Ropek/Twitter

Users who may have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers will get “Apple threat alerts,” the firm said.

Reuters reported that Apple sent out its initial notices to Thai activists and academics on Tuesday. According to images published on Twitter by an afflicted researcher, the messages include a generic warning about “state-sponsored attackers.”

Screenshot: Lucas Ropek/Twitter

Exactly how much information Apple intends to provide with the parties impacted by this decision is still up in the air. You may have been the target of an APT or other threat organization, but are you likely to get an email informing you of their existence. Alternatively, would you be left with the harrowing but hazy sense that someone is trying to get you in the end? A look at the screenshots posted online suggests this. The best course of action in this situation may be to just throw your iPhone into the ocean. This item will be updated if Apple responds to our questions.

If nothing else, it’s a fascinating developmentā€”even if most people won’t care. Even while the “vast majority of users will never be targeted,” Apple emphasizes that such attempts often target journalists, academics, and other high-profile political figures.