Apple warns multiple Armenians of notorious Pegasus spyware attacks, expert points finger at Azerbaijan
YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 1, ARMENPRESS. Apple has warned multiple iPhone users in Armenia that they’ve been targeted in attempted state-sponsored espionage attacks, including through Pegasus, the infamous spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-arms company NSO Group designed to be covertly and remotely installed on mobile phones.
Information security expert Samvel Martirosyan said on November 1 that this recent wave of warnings from Apple is the continuation of other cases. There’ve been several waves of similar hacking attacks since the 2020 war unleashed by Azerbaijan, Martirosyan said at a press conference.
“These days, numerous citizens in Armenia are receiving such notifications. The warnings don’t mention who was behind the attack. I can say that most of the studied cases pertain to Pegasus spyware attacks targeting mobile phones. It is a spyware developed by a private Israeli company, which is sold to state agencies of several countries. Reality shows that dictatorships use it against the civil society. The most active user is Azerbaijan. And this case related to Armenia is highly unusual in terms of Azerbaijan factually using this program as a cyberweapon against Armenia with permission from the Israeli government,” Martirosyan said.
CyberHUB-AM co-founder Artur Papyan warned Android users that if they haven’t received any warnings, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been targeted.
Once the phone is infected with Pegasus, those behind the attack can get access to the entire information on the device.
Apple users are advised to install the latest updates for security reasons and use the Lockdown Mode if they suspect they are targeted.
Several hundreds of people have been targeted in Armenia, according to Martirosyan.
“These waves appeared during the war. This process has been taking place for over two years. Those targeted include both current and former government officials, oppositionists, journalists, staffers of various state bodies, and employees of foreign organizations working in Armenia. 30% of the cases that have applied to us were unsuccessful attacks, but the rest were successful. Some people have received such notifications several times. The phones of these people and their family members are infected,” he said.
The use of Pegasus is rather expensive, and targeting only one phone through the spyware costs the hackers somewhere between 20,000 to 60,000 dollars.