The zero-click hacks take the cyber threat to the next level—the terrible nightmare level. The recent requirement that all Apple users update their devices proves that this attack is unique and daring. Experts are struggling to detect and stop this attack due to its complexity and evasive techniques. The details provided below will help you understand the zero-click spyware and keep you protected.
Who Are the Hackers Behind the Spyware?
The NSO group of Israeli hackers created the Zero-click spyware. NSO was established in 2010 to provide software services mainly in the Middle East and is named after its founders Niv, Shalev, and Omri. NSO hails its famous Pegasus software as a crucial tool for governments to fight crime and terrorism. However, lawsuit reports connecting the spyware with the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi prove that the exploits are potentially reckless and malicious.
Unlike other types of viruses you’ve probably encountered, Pegasus doesn’t spread. Instead, it targets a single device or phone number and exploits its vulnerabilities through forced entry. Previous versions of the virus are less sophisticated and may have required users to interact with files or links and compromise their devices. Now, the zero-click exploit doesn’t need your click or like to compromise your device and take control.
What is a Zero-Click Attack?
The name tells it all. This type of hack can occur without the user’s action. Typical cyber-attacks will trap you to download an attachment or click on a link with embedded malware. It makes them easily detectable and avoidable as you only have to ignore interacting with anything suspicious in your inbox. The case is different from the zero-click hack, and if you think of it as a game of poker, the zero-click attack has the upper hand.
What Makes the Zero-Click Attack a Menace?
You are Defenseless
Since the zero-click attack sneaks into your device without your permission or knowledge, your efforts to avoid suspicious files or links may be good for nothing. Take, for instance, the 2019 WhatsApp breach that occurred through a missed call. Such an attack renders you defenseless as there’s nothing you can do to stop a missed call. The attack prompted the most popular messaging app in the world to sanitize the package and provide a patch after that. The forced entry experience in the WhatsApp breach allowed the spyware to access everything in the recipients’ phone without affecting space or battery consumption.
Zero-Click Attack is Difficult to Detect
Hackers do everything they can to hide their presence in your device. So, you won’t even know you are a target. Besides, it can be challenging to tell whether your phone is infected since the zero-click hack doesn’t affect your device’s performance. Once the hackers access your device’s control through the spyware, they can delete the link or text that initiated the exploit. Erasing all the traces makes it even harder for security agencies to track sophisticated attacks increasing the technological challenges for investigators and technical administrators.
Zero-Click Attack Mainly Targets Messaging Apps
Modern devices come with popular messaging apps which provide a platform for the zero-click hack. In addition to the 2019 WhatsApp hack, Apple’s iMessage has also been a victim. In this case, investigators revealed that the attack exploited the then-latest iPhone software and evaded the so-called BlastDoor security feature that Apple had incorporated in the iMessage app. Now software companies are left only to study the attacks and vulnerabilities and create timely updates for users. For instance, Apple introduced new updates for all iPads, iPhones, and Mac in September 2021 to provide a new patch for a recently discovered vulnerability.
The best way to mitigate the possible damage from the zero-click attack is to find safe ways to keep or share sensitive information. Also, keep your device updated since updates come with patches for software security vulnerabilities. Above all, regularly check your devices for emails, messages, and phone numbers from suspicious sources.