Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the software exploit has been in use since February and was used to deploy Pegasus, the spyware from Israeli company NSO Group that was allegedly used to monitor journalists and human rights activists in several countries .

The urgent update that Apple (AAPL) The published Monday closes a loophole in iMessage software that allowed hackers to infiltrate a user’s phone without the user clicking any links, according to Citizen Lab. The Saudi activist chose to remain anonymous, Citizen Lab said.

Apple credits Citizen Lab researchers with finding the vulnerability.

“Attacks like the one described are sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals,” said Ivan Krstić, director of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, in a statement.

Krstić said Apple quickly fixed the problem with a software fix and the vulnerability was …

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