Apple has updated its threat notification policy amid rising spyware concerns

Apple has updated its threat notification policy amid rising spyware concerns

In a major update to its security policies, Apple has recently changed how it notifies users of potential spyware attacks. This reflects growing concerns over digital threats and aims to increase user safety and privacy. We'll look at what effect these changes will have to Apple users.

Apple has been a forerunner for digital security for years, giving its users frequent updates and notifications about potential threats. These notifications have often talked about the risks of "state-sponsored" attacks, a term that refers to high-level cybersecurity threats that involve foreign governments. In a recent update, Apple has decided to change its terminology and refer to these threats more generally as "mercenary spyware attacks".

This update in terminology was likely influenced by various factors, including discussions with global governments and the evolving nature of cyber threats, which increasingly involve private companies and non-state actors. The term "mercenary spyware" encompasses a range of sophisticated software, such as the infamous Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO Group, which governments and other entities have reportedly used to target specific individuals like journalists, activists, and political figures.

Apple's revised threat notification system aims to inform users who might have been targeted by these advanced spyware attacks, emphasizing the rarity and sophistication of these threats. The notifications are designed to be unmistakable and direct, appearing prominently when a user signs into their Apple ID page. They are also accompanied by an email and iMessage notification to the associated contacts, ensuring the user is well-informed about potential risks.


Apple has clarified that these alerts are generated from high-confidence indicators of spyware activity detected by their internal security teams. They underscore that the vast majority of Apple users will never be targeted by such high-level threats, which are expensive to deploy and typically focus on individuals with access to sensitive or valuable information.

Alongside the notification updates, Apple continues to urge all users to adhere to general cybersecurity best practices. These include updating devices to the latest software versions, which contain the most recent security patches, and using strong, unique passwords for online accounts. Additionally, Apple recommends enabling two-factor authentication for Apple IDs and using passcodes to protect devices.

And for those who receive a threat notification or believe they might be targeted, Apple has introduced Lockdown Mode. This new security feature offers an extreme layer of protection by limiting certain functionalities to reduce the attack surface potentially exploited by spyware.