Mahua Moitra, Shashi Tharoor and other opposition leaders get emails about potential bid to compromise their iPhones | Mint
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Business News/ News / India/  Mahua Moitra, Shashi Tharoor and other opposition leaders get emails about potential bid to compromise their iPhones
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Mahua Moitra, Shashi Tharoor and other opposition leaders get emails about potential bid to compromise their iPhones

Opposition leaders received warnings from Apple about state-sponsored attackers trying to compromise their phones.

Apple issued warning to several INDIA Bloc leaders of ‘state-sponsored’ phone attack (PTI)Premium
Apple issued warning to several INDIA Bloc leaders of ‘state-sponsored’ phone attack (PTI)

Several Opposition leaders including TMC's Mahua Moitra, Shiv Sena's (UBT) Priyanka Chaturvedi, Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Pawan Khera, AAP's Raghav Chadha said that they have received warnings from Apple about 'state-sponsored attackers' trying to compromise their phone. While addressing a press conference, Rahul Gandhi said that several people including Congress members KC Venugopal, Supriya, SP's Akhilesh Yadav also received the warning message. The Congress leader claimed that the government is engaging in distraction politics.

Replying to the opposition's claim of their phones being hacked by the Centre, BJP leader and SC Advocate Nalin Kohli said "How can we assume that the Government of India has done this?"

Former Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that they should submit formal complaints with Apple rather than making accusations against the government. He, however, cited his experience to claim that no telephone company does something like this and goes to CERT-In, an emergency response team, first to look into the matter, as reported by PTI.

Amid all the claims and accusations, Apple has now issued a statement which stated that it does not attribute the threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attacker. "State-sponsored attackers are very well-funded and sophisticated, and their attacks evolve over time. Detecting such attacks relies on threat intelligence signals that are often imperfect and incomplete. It’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected. We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behavior to evade detection in the future," the statement from Apple said.

What did ‘State-sponsored’ attack message from Apple state?

The message from Apple received to the opposition leaders read, “Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID (email id). These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do."

“These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do. If your device is compromised by a state-sponsored attacker, they may be able to remotely access your sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone. While it's possible this is a false alarm, please take this warning seriously," it further read.

List of Opposition leaders who received ‘state-sponsored’ attack message

TMC leader Mahua Moitra who is being probed by the Parliaments Ethics Committee over her role in the alleged 'Cash for Query scam' posted on X (formerly Twitter) and wrote, "Received text and email from Apple, warning me Government trying to hack into my phone and email. @HMOIndia- get a life...." In another tweet, she also said that she is officially writing to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla requesting him to protect Opposition MPs and summon Home Minister officials ASAP. "Privileges Committee needs to take up. @AshwiniVaishnaw this is real breach you need to worry about, she added.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor posted on X and said “Received from an Apple ID, threat-notifications@apple.com, which I have verified. Authenticity confirmed. Glad to keep underemployed officials busy at the expense of taxpayers like me! Nothing more important to do? @PMOIndia @INCIndia @kharge @RahulGandhi."

Another Congress leader and party spokesperson Pawan Khera also shared a screenshot for the warning message that he received and questioned the Centre, “Dear Modi Sarkar, why are you doing this?"

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi also said that he received warnings from his phone manufacturer about “state-sponsored attackers trying to compromise his phone"

AAP leader Raghav Chadha whose party is currently under the ED scanner over the alleged Delhi liquor scam case, also received the warning email from Apple. Slamming the Centre, Chadha said that he uses his smartphone to perform parliamentary duties, as also to communicate with party colleagues or workers, and even discuss legal strategies with lawyers in several of his ongoing litigations. He claimed that there has been an assault on our nation's democratic interests.

Shiv Sena (UBT) faction leader Priyanka Chaturvedi also acknowledged about receiving warning from Apple support.

Sitaram Yechury, the leader of the CPI (M), who was also one of the opposition leaders who received the warning said that Centre needs to give a clarification on why is this being done. "I got an e-mail from Apple last night which mentioned that 'state-sponsored' surveillance is being done and your phone and all the systems are being hacked and tackling with this is difficult...Privacy is the right of every citizen, according to our Constitution...The Centre needs to give a clarification on why is this being done..," he said as quoted by news agency ANI.

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Published: 31 Oct 2023, 12:18 PM IST
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