iPhone’s ForcedEntry Exploit Was Used by Another Israeli Firm

iPhone 13 rear

Last August, a ‘FORCEDENTRY’ exploit was found in iMessage that bypassed Apple’s security measures and was deemed to be among the most sophisticated zero-click exploits ever. The NSO Group used the exploit to hack the iPhones of nine Bahraini activists. Now, a new report details that another competing company — QuaDream — also used the exploit to hack into iPhones.

Most of the spotlight around iPhone hacking has centered around the NSO Group and its Pegasus spyware. However, QuaDream is also in the business of developing hacking and snooping tools for governments and serves the same client list as the Pegasus spyware maker. However, it has managed to keep a low profile and does not have a website touting its work. Additionally, like NSO, it is also based out of Israel.

The two rival businesses gained the same ability last year to remotely break into iPhones, according to the five sources, meaning that both firms could compromise Apple phones without an owner needing to open a malicious link. That two firms employed the same sophisticated hacking technique – known as a “zero-click” – shows that phones are more vulnerable to powerful digital spying tools than the industry will admit, one expert said.

QuaDream’s flagship product is ‘REIGN,’ which can take complete control of the hacked phone and access messages from WhatsApp, Telegram, and other services along with the saved photos and videos on the phone. Its “Premium Collection” capabilities include microphone activation, real-time call recordings, and front and rear camera activations. The pricing seemingly started from $2.2 million without maintenance costs and included 50 smartphone break-ins per year.

Apple confirmed last year that it has further beefed up iMessage’s security in iOS 15 and noted that such exploits are only used to target specific individuals. It also ended up filing a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against NSO Group and its parent group for targeting and surveillance of iPhone and Mac. It’s possible that after NSO Group, the spotlight will fall on QuaDream, especially now that its activities have been brought to light.

[Via Reuters]

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