Citizen Lab has released a report detailing sophisticated iPhone exploits being used against nine Bahraini activists. The activists were reportedly hacked with the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware using two zero-click iMessage exploits: Kismet, which was identified in 2020; and ForcedEntry, a new vulnerability that was identified in 2021. Zero-click attacks are labeled as sophisticated threats because unlike typical malware, they do not require user interaction to infect a device. The latter zero-click spyware is particularly notable because it can bypass security protections such as BlastDoor, which was designed by Apple to protect users against zero-click intrusions such as these.
According to Citizen Lab’s report, Kismet was used from July to September 2020 and was launched against devices running at least iOS 13.5.1 and 13.7. It was likely not effective against the iOS 14 update in September. Then, in February 2021, the NSO Group started deploying the zero-click exploit that managed to circumvent BlastDoor, which Citizen Lab calls ForcedEntry. Amnesty Tech, a global collective of digital rights advocates and security researchers, also observed zero-click iMessage exploit activity during this period and referred to it as Megalodon.
Source: Trend Micro