India parliament panel may summon Apple officials over hacking attempt alerts: report
A number of opposition leaders have claimed that they had received a “threat notification” from Apple, warning of a “potential state-sponsored spyware attack” on their iPhones.
(L-R) Apple logo (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images) and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)
INDIA’S parliamentary standing committee on information technology (IT) might summon officials from Apple during an upcoming meeting to speak over the recent alerts on “state sponsored attacks” sent to opposition leaders and other individuals in the country on their iPhones, Asian News International reported on Wednesday (1).
The committee’s secretariat has expressed ‘deep concerns’ and is dealing with the matter with ‘utmost seriousness’, an official of the secretariat told ANI.
“The parliamentary standing committee on information technology (IT) is contemplating the summoning of Apple representatives during an upcoming meeting to address the recent ‘state-sponsored attacks’ on several public figures in India. The committee’s secretariat has expressed ‘deep concern’ and is treating the matter with the ‘utmost seriousness’,” an official of the secretariat was quoted as saying.
A day ago, a number of opposition leaders such as Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress, Shashi Tharoor of the Indian National Congress, Raghav Chadha of the Aam Aadmi Party claimed that they had received a “threat notification” from Apple, warning of a “potential state-sponsored spyware attack” on their iPhones.
They also slammed the Narendra Modi government accusing it of being behind the spyware attack attempt.
As per screenshots shared by the opposition parliamentarians, notifications from Apple said, “Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID. These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do. If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to remotely access your sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone.”
Besides the abovementioned ones, the Congress’s Pawan Khera and Supriya Shrinate, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Sitaram Yechury, and others also brought similar allegations.
Besides the politicians, some others such as the president of think-tank Observer Research Foundation and a veteran journalist also allegedly received the notifications.
The government denied the charges and said a detailed probe would be carried out into the matter.
On Tuesday (31), minister of state for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar claimed that commerce minister Piyush Goyal had also received a hack alert from Apple.
Later, Indian IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the Modi government was concerned about the ‘state-sponsored attack’ message and that it would investigate the case thoroughly.
Vaishnaw, however, said that Apple has issued such an advisory in 150 countries but the probe has been ordered.
On Tuesday, Apple issued a statement in which it said that state-sponsored attackers are “very well funded and sophisticated and their attacks evolve over time”.
It added that detecting such attacks depends on threat intelligence signals that are often incomplete and far from perfect. The company said it’s possible that some Apple threat notifications might be false alarms or that some attacks were not detected.