A 'Karma' iPhone spy tool allowed UAE to access data of iOS users: Report

The tool was reportedly developed to monitor hundreds of targets and was leveraged in 2016 and 2017.

  • Published: January 31, 2019 9:25 AM IST

It seems like after Facebook, its Apple‘s turn. Recently, a major Facetime bug was discovered, that allowed an iPhone user to listen and see the person on the other end before the call was picked up. Now, a fresh report reveals that former U.S. government intelligence operatives reportedly developed a sophisticated spying tool for iPhones, which was used by the United Arab Emirates government to spy, according to a report by Reuters. The cyber tool, labeled as Karma, helps UAE government to remotely hack the iPhones of diplomats, activists and even foreign leaders.

The tool was reportedly developed to monitor hundreds of targets and was leveraged in 2016 and 2017, before an Apple security update. Furthermore, to hack an iPhone, the powerful tool didn’t even require the victim to click some type of link, but it can reportedly hack any iPhone by just entering a phone number or email address into a system. The cited source further reported that the cyber weapon could obtain iOS users private data, including photos, emails, text messages, and location information without their knowledge. The tool doesn’t support Android devices.

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“Tools like Karma, which can exploit hundreds of iPhones simultaneously. Only about 10 nations, such as Russia, China and the United States and its closest allies, are thought to be capable of developing such weapons, said Michael Daniel, a former White House cybersecurity czar under President Obama.”

“The […] operatives described Karma as a tool that could remotely grant access to iPhones simply by uploading phone numbers or email accounts into an automated targeting system. The tool has limits — it doesn’t work on Android devices and doesn’t intercept phone calls. But it was unusually potent because, unlike many exploits, Karma did not require a target to click on a link sent to an iPhone, they said,” the report added. Furthermore, there are no details regarding how the tool worked in real. Both Apple and the UAE government refused to comment on the issue.

  • Published Date: January 31, 2019 9:25 AM IST