Govt asks Apple to join probe into ‘state-sponsored’ attack warningstext_fields
New Delhi: Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday said that the government has ordered an investigation into the issue of hacking alerts from iPhone maker Apple Inc. warning Opposition MPs of a potential ‘state-sponsored attack’ to steal information from their iPhones.
The Centre has also asked Apple to join the investigation “with real, accurate information on the alleged attacks”.
“The Government of Bharat takes its role of protecting the privacy and security of all citizens very seriously and will investigate to get to the bottom of these notifications... In light of such information and widespread speculation, we have also asked Apple to join the investigation with real, accurate information on the alleged State-sponsored attacks,” Vaishnaw said.
“The government is concerned about this issue and it will get to the bottom of it. We have already ordered investigation into it,” Vaishnaw told a press conference.
Several opposition leaders claimed they had received a notification from Apple warning them of "state-sponsored attackers trying to remotely compromise" their iPhones.
Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, Trinamool Congress' Mahua Moitra, Aam Aadmi Party's Raghav Chadha, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Congress' Shashi Tharoor and his party's media and publicity department head Pawan Khera shared the message from Apple on X.
Vaishnaw said that Apple's warning message was not unique to India but had been issued globally.
"Apple has issued this advisory in 150 countries since the threat notification system was introduced in November 2021. It is clear from their mail that they don't have specific information. They have sent this alert based on an estimate," he said.
Earlier in the day, Apple Inc said it does not attribute threat notifications to any specific state-sponsored attackers and that it cannot provide information on what causes such warnings. Apple in a statement stated it is possible that some threat notifications may be false alarms and some attacks may not be detected.
State-sponsored attackers, it said, 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," it said.
It also refused to reveal what triggered warnings received by some MPs.
"We are unable to provide information about what causes us to issue threat notifications, as that may help state-sponsored attackers adapt their behaviour to evade detection in the future," Apple said.
In a series of social media posts, Vaishnaw later said that "much of information by Apple on this issue seems vague and non-specific in nature."