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With iOS 14.8, Apple has released a critical update for its iPhone that seeks to fix a flaw that exploited Pegasus spyware.
Spyware can be remotely installed on a target’s iPhone or iPad, giving the person or organization that installed it full access to the device and all the data on it, without any action taken by the owner. That includes text messages, emails, and even recording phone calls. Pegasus was originally designed and is marketed by its creator, the NSO Group, to monitor criminals and terrorists.
While there is likely little chance that a government entity will install Pegasus on your iPhone to monitor your activities, if you are curious, there is a free tool that allows you to check your iPhone or iPad with just a few clicks. To be clear, the chances of your iPhone or iPad being infected by Pegasus Spyware are low. That said, if you want peace of mind, just in case, here’s what to do, along with installing the iOS update.
Download and install the iMazing application on your Mac or PC
iMazing recently updated its desktop app to include Amnesty International’s Mobile Verification Toolkit, which was created to detect signs of Pegasus on a device and does not charge users for access to the feature.
Download iMazing for your computer from the company’s website. Don’t worry about buying the app – you can run the full spyware test with just the free trial.
Install iMazing and open it. When prompted, select the free trial.
How to run the Pegasus Spyware scan on your iPhone or iPad
With iMazing installed and running, connect your iPhone or iPad to the computer. You may need to enter the screen lock code on your device to approve the connection before proceeding (something to keep in mind if your iPhone or iPad is not showing up in iMazing).
Next, scroll down through the action options on the right side of iMazing until you locate Detect Spyware; Click it.
A new window will open to guide you through the process. The tool works by creating a local backup of your device (so you will need to make sure you have enough storage space for the backup) and then analyzing that backup. It’s an automated task, so you don’t have to stick around to monitor it once you click Start.
iMazing suggests leaving all the default settings in place when clicking on each screen. There are configuration options built into the tool for power users, but for most of us (including me), the default settings will do the job.
After going through the basic setup, you will need to accept a license for the tool and then click the Start Scan button.
Once the process begins, make sure to leave your iPhone or iPad connected until it is finished. I ran the test on my iPhone 12 Pro and it took me around 30 minutes to create the backup and another five minutes to analyze it. After the backup was created, I had to enter my account password to allow iMazing to start analyzing the file. So I recommend starting the tool and checking it after a while.
Once iMazing starts analyzing your device’s backup, it will show you its progress by showing each individual app it is checking, starting with iMessage. The application uses a database of “malicious email addresses, links, process names, and file names.”
When iMazing is finished, you will see an alert with the results. In my case, my iPhone 12 Pro showed no signs of infection and had 0 warnings.
The alert also includes two buttons to open or reveal the report. I checked my report and it contained a bunch of random links that meant nothing to me.
What to do if the iMazing app says your device has signs of infection
First of all, don’t panic. It could be a false positive. If this happens, iMazing prompts you to submit the report (click Reveal Report to go directly to the file) to your customer support team for further analysis. However, the company suggests that if you or a family member are active in a “politically sensitive context” and have a positive report, immediately remove your SIM card and turn off your iPhone or iPad.
If your phone is not infected, you still want to install the latest update on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac, which fixes the vulnerability.
Final words: iOS 14.8: How you can scan for Pegasus spyware on your phone
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