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Google warns of new spyware threat to iOS and Android users

This is according to a new report from Google, and one from Lookout Security.

hacker on computer security Chinese government
Image: Tech Everywhere

Spyware from an Italian company has been used to spy on iPhone and Android users in Italy and Kazakhstan. That’s according to Google and Lookout Threat Lab.

Known as “Hermit,” the spyware targets Android and Apple devices. The targets of the hacking are from Kazakhstan, Syria, and Italy.

Remember Pegasus, the spyware created by NSO Group of Israel? Hermit seems similar, sold under the guise of “lawful intercept” to governments and other entities. The spyware vendor is believed to be Italian RCS Lab.

Lookout says the spyware was first used in 2019, in an anti-corruption operation by Italian authorities. Then it popped up again, this time in Syria. The latest samples came from Kazakhstan, earlier this year.

READ MORE: Apple’s new Lockdown Mode protects your iPhone from hackers

All the samples Lookout analyzed were from Android apps, although they say there is an iOS version. Legitimate-looking apps hid the spyware, tricking users into installing it.

Google says it has alerted the affected users and put steps into place to protect Android users from the spyware.

READ MORE: Android users: delete these apps – they could be stealing your money

Spyware and malware of this scale is almost always targeted. You can limit the possibility of attackers getting on your devices with a few simple rules.

Keep your phones updated, both for Android or iOS, and your apps. Don’t click on any links you don’t know the source of (including those sent via email or SMS). Don’t install unknown apps.

If you don’t recognize the app name, do a quick search to see if anyone has reported issues. And check your installed apps every so often, because sometimes malware adds new content after a while.

READ MORE: Android users: delete these apps – they’re riddled with malware

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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