A Thai rapper vowed not to be silenced yesterday after he and at least five other government critics received messages from Apple warning that state-sponsored hackers could be targeting their phones.
The US tech giant warned the Thai activists that, if successful, the hackers could remotely access their data and even the camera and microphone on their iPhones.
The warnings came after Apple sued NSO Group, the Israeli spyware maker at the center of the Pegasus surveillance scandal, seeking to block it from targeting iPhones.
Dechathorn “Hockhacker” Bamrungmuang, from the group Rap Against Dictatorship, posted a screenshot of the message to his Facebook page on Wednesday.
“Apple believes you are being targeted by state sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID,” the message warned.
“These attackers are likely targeting you individually because of who you are or what you do.”
Dechathorn, who has previously been arrested and released for sedition, said he was “appalled” by the hacking attempt.
“We [Rap Against Dictatorship] will probably write a song about this,” Dechathorn said. “I think the state won’t stop at this.”
The rap group took a high-profile role in the youth-led protests that shook Bangkok last year, demanding the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who came to power in a 2014 coup.
Asked about the messages from Apple, Thai Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister Anucha Burapachaisri said: “If it is authentic, the Digital Economy and Society Ministry will look into this.”
Writer Sarinee Achavanuntakul, Thammasat University political scientist Prajak Kongkirati, filmmaker Elia Fofi, and human rights lawyer Yingcheep Atchanont all shared the same warnings on their social media pages.
The sixth target was believed to be a human rights lawyer, while local media reported that a further two activists and academics had been affected.
Sarinee wrote that it was terrifying the hack had exploited a system vulnerability to embed “spyware into the iPhone itself without the owner’s knowledge.”
It was not immediately clear whether the Thai warnings were linked to the Pegasus scandal, but on Tuesday Apple said it was notifying users it believed had been targeted.
The Pegasus spyware essentially turns smartphones into pocket spying devices, allowing hackers to see a target’s messages and photos, track locations and turn on cameras without their knowledge.
Fresh concerns were raised in September when Apple released a fix for a weakness that allowed NSO’s spyware to infect devices without users clicking on a malicious message or link.
The so-called “zero-click” attack can silently corrupt the targeted device and was identified by researchers at Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog organization in Canada.
Human rights groups have long criticized the Thai government for silencing, harassing and arresting critics.
Two-year-old Xu Haoyang (徐灝洋) has likely just months to live — but the only medicine that can help his rare genetic condition is not found anywhere in China and closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic mean that he cannot travel for treatment. Instead, his desperate father, Xu Wei (徐偉), has created a home laboratory to create a remedy for the boy himself. “I didn’t really have time to think about whether to do it or not. It had to be done,” the 30-year-old said from his DIY lab in an apartment building in southwestern Kunming. Haoyang has Menkes syndrome, a genetic disorder
BURNING, LOOTING: The demonstrators called for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to step down over failure to deliver infrastructure, among other complaints Solomon Islands police yesterday fired tear gas in the capital, Honiara, as crowds of protesters set fire to buildings, including a police station, and looted shops in an eruption of anger at the government, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reported. The protest was led by people from the Pacific nation’s largest island, Malaita Province, about 120km from the capital. They were demanding that Solomon Island Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare step down over failure to deliver promised infrastructure among other complaints, RNZ said. The protest began peacefully, but most schools and businesses in Honiara were closed by the afternoon as crowds tried to enter the
MOBS, TEAR GAS: Anti-government protests deteriorated and led to looting and arson, as the Pacific nation’s PM said he regretted a return to the country’s ‘dark days’ Rioters torched buildings in the Solomon Islands’ capital of Honiara yesterday, targeting the city’s Chinatown district in a second day of anti-government protests. Eyewitnesses and local media reported that crowds had defied a government lockdown to take to the streets. Live images showed several buildings engulfed in flames and plumes of thick black smoke billowing high above the capital. It followed widespread disorder on Wednesday, when demonstrators attempted to storm parliament and depose Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. Businesses operated by Honiara’s Chinese community were looted and burned, prompting Beijing’s embassy to express “serious concerns” to the Solomons’ government. The embassy “made representations
IMBALANCE: An annual survey found that 48 percent of people eat either too little or too much, resulting in them being overweight, obese or underweight Nearly half the world’s population suffer from poor nutrition linked to too much or not enough food, a global assessment said yesterday, with wide-ranging impacts on health and the planet. The Global Nutrition Report (GNR), a yearly survey and analysis of the latest data on nutrition and related health issues, found that 48 percent of people currently eat either too little or too much — resulting in them being overweight, obese or underweight. At current rates, the world would fail to meet eight out of nine nutrition targets set by the WHO for 2025, it said. These include reducing child wasting (when