If you have an iPhone, there's a chance that nefarious parties not affiliated with Apple could be tracking you. However, Apple’s latest update, iOS 9.3.5, eliminates several critical security and privacy exploits and should [hopefully] keep you safe.
NSO Group, an Israeli startup that sells software that can track mobile phones, was responsible for the intrusion. Its software can read text messages and emails, track calls and contacts, record sounds, collect passwords, and physically locate the mobile phone user. NSO Group executives have boasted that its spyware functions like a “ghost” and is untraceable.
The company was founded five years ago by entrepreneurs Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. It was purchased by Francisco Partners Management LLC for $120 million USD last year. NSO Group frequently changes its name in order to remain a “ghost”. Most recently the company was known as “Q”.
NSO Group is incredibly popular with national governments, and its annual earnings amount to roughly $75 million. Its revenue is likely to increase as government spending by countries such as the United States and China jumps from $77 billion this year worldwide to $108 billion by 2019. Countries such as France and Germany are trying to pass legislation that would make it easier to access citizen's phones.
Researchers Bill Marczak and John Scott Railton gave Apple the heads-up, and the company responded with the patch in less than two weeks. Suspicions were further confirmed when when Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates, began receiving suspicious text messages. The messages claimed to have information about the torture of U.A.E. citizens.
Fred Sainz, a spokesperson from Apple, remarked, “We advise all of our customers to always download the latest version of iOS to protect themselves against potential security exploits.”