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India Probing Phone Hacking Complaints by Opposition Politicians, Minister Says

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India’s cybersecurity agency is investigating complaints of mobile phone hacking by senior opposition politicians who reported receiving warning messages from Apple, Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.

Vaishnaw was quoted in the Indian Express newspaper as saying Thursday that CERT-In, the computer emergency response team based in New Delhi, had started the probe, adding that “Apple confirmed it has received the notice for investigation.”

A political aide to Vaishnaw and two officials in the federal home ministry told Reuters that all the cyber security concerns raised by the politicians were being scrutinized.

There was no immediate comment from Apple about the investigation.

This week, Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of trying to hack into opposition politicians’ mobile phones after some lawmakers shared screenshots on social media of a notification quoting the iPhone manufacturer as saying: “Apple believes you are being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with your Apple ID.”

A senior minister from Modi’s government also said he had received the same notification on his phone.

Apple said it did not attribute the threat notifications to “any specific state-sponsored attacker,” adding that “it’s possible that some Apple threat notifications may be false alarms, or that some attacks are not detected.”

In 2021, India was rocked by reports that the government had used Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to snoop on scores of journalists, activists and politicians, including Gandhi.

The government has declined to reply to questions about whether India or any of its state agencies had purchased Pegasus spyware for surveillance.

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