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Apple reportedly faces pressure in India after sending out warnings of state-sponsored hacking

Indian authorities allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi have questioned Apple on the accuracy of its internal threat algorithms and are now investigating the security of its devices, according to The Washington Post. Officials apparently targeted the company after it warned journalists and opposition politicians that state-sponsored hackers may have infiltrated their devices back in October. While Apple is under scrutiny for its security measures in the eyes of the public, the Post says government officials were more upfront with what they wanted behind closed doors.

They reportedly called up the company’s representatives in India to pressure Apple into finding a way to soften the political impact of its hacking warnings. The officials also called in an Apple security expert to conjure alternative explanations for the warnings that they could tell people — most likely one that doesn’t point to the government as the possible culprit.

The journalists and politicians who posted about Apple’s warnings on social media had one thing in common: They were all critical of Modi’s government. Amnesty International examined the phone of one particular journalist named Anand Mangnale who was investigating long-time Modi ally Gautam Adani and found that an attacker had planted the Pegasus spyware on his Apple device. While Apple didn’t explicitly say that the Indian government is to blame for the attacks, Pegasus, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, is mostly sold to governments and government agencies.

The Post’s report said India’s ruling political party has never confirmed or denied using Pegasus to spy on journalists and political opponents, but this is far from the first time its critics have been infected with the Pegasus spyware. In 2021, an investigation by several publications that brought the Pegasus project to light found the spyware on the phones of people with a history of opposing and criticizing Modi’s government.

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