If you have an iPhone, stop what you're doing and update it to the latest operating system, iOS 9.3.5 (to do this, go to your Settings app, tap "General," and then "Software Update." Then tap "Download and Install"). Why? As Motherboard reports today, security researchers have found a new malicious program that can secretly bypass the security on your iPhone and capture almost all of your data, including all your texts, phone calls, emails, even burrowing into your Facebook and Gmail apps.
Fortunately, Apple's newest version of its free iPhone software, iOS 9.3.5, fixes the security vulnerabilities that this malware uses to attack your phone. So if you download and install it, you should be safe.
The malware, known as Pegasus and thought to be developed by an Israeli intelligence software vendor known as NSO Group, was uncovered after UAE human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor received an unsolicited text message from an unknown number last month containing a link. Clicking the link installed the malware, according to the researchers who analyzed it on a test iPhone. These researchers included members of Citizen Lab, a multidisciplinary cybersecurity and human rights group from the University of Toronto, and Lookout, a mobile security firm.
Evolution of the iPhone:
Evolution of the iPhone
Evolution of the iPhone
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveils a new mobile phone that can also be used as a digital music player and a camera, a long-anticipated device dubbed an 'iPhone.' at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco. Cisco and Apple announced 21 February 2007 that they had settled their trademark lawsuit over Apple's use of the name iPhone for a new portable device that includes mobile phone features. Cisco sued Apple after the Cupertino, California, maker of iPod MP3 players and Macintosh computers had grandly launched an iPhone device on January 9 with camera, digital music player, and mobile telephone capabilities.
(TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images)
The new Apple iPhone is displayed behind a glass enclosure at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco. Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs made the company's long-awaited jump into the mobile phone business during the annual Macworld conference and expo.
(TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Customers look at computers beneath an advertisement for the Apple iPhone in the Apple Soho store June 27, 2007 in New York City. Hype for the iPhone, which will cost $499 or $599, has driven demand into overdrive as it will be released at 6:00 p.m. June 29 nationwide.
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The new iPhone is seen inside the Apple Store in New York, June 29, 2007. Hundreds lined up on Friday outside the Apple store hours before the iPhone, a combination widescreen iPod, cellphone and pocket Internet device, went on sale at Apple's 164 stores and nearly 1,800 AT&T stores.
People queue to buy the newly released Apple iPhone on the first day of its Japanese launch outside a SoftBank Mobile's flagship store on July 11, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. The iPhone 3G, priced at 23,040 yen (US $215.25) for the 8GB and 34,560 yen (US $322.82) for the 16GB in Japan, is a multimedia mobile device with a touch screen that enables email and web browsing, as well as being a portable media player.
(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
A 16GB iPhone 3G sits on display in the Apple store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Friday, July 11, 2008. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is aiming at Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry as the iPhone 3G goes on sale in 22 countries today, almost quadrupling the markets for the handset, which has better audio quality, lets users run software from outside developers and adds support for corporate e-mail systems.
(Photo by Gino Domenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Apple Corporation CEO Steve Jobs speaks about the new iPhone 3G during his keynote speech at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 9, 2008.
New iPhone 3G waits for purchase at the Apple Store on July 11, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. New iPhone buyers, along with owners of the previous version who were upgrading to newer software, experienced massive gridlock on the phone's network as millions attempted to activate, or upgrade service.
(Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
An Apple iPhone 3GS sits on display inside an AT&T store in New York, U.S, on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is examining whether AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless stymie wireless competitors by denying them connections and making it hard for subscribers to switch providers. The agency said June 18 it was investigating whether consumers are shortchanged by carriers' exclusive contracts for wireless handsets, such as deals linking Apple Inc.'s iPhone to AT&T.
(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A posed picture shows a fake iPhone 3GS charging next to an Apple logo on a Macbook Air laptop in Beijing July 22, 2011. A fake Apple store in China, made famous by a blog that said even the staff working there didn't realize it was a bogus outlet, is probably the most audacious example to date of the risks Western companies face in the booming Chinese market. The less-publicized phenomenon of unauthorized vendors setting up shop to peddle real products has grown alongside China's manufacturing prowess. Many of the factories that produce brand-name goods on contract have been known to do extra runs of the goods to make extra cash, analysts say.
Employees work with the Apple iPhone 3GS at the company's retail store in San Francisco, California June 19, 2009. Apple Inc's latest iPhone hit stores on Friday with new features and faster speeds, drawing some fans, but not the crowds that had swarmed the previous iPhone launches.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs discusses the new iPhone 4 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 7, 2010.
New iPhone 4 models are displayed after Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled it during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, June 7, 2010.
An iPhone 4S is seen at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California October 14, 2011. Apple Inc's new iPhone 4S went on sale in stores across the globe on Friday, prompting thousands to queue around city blocks to snap up the final gadget unveiled during Steve Jobs' life.
A collection of white Apple iPhone 4S smartphones, photographed during a studio shoot for Tap Magazine, May 12, 2011.
(Photo by Joby Sessions/Tap Magazine via Getty Images)
Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple Inc., speaks during an event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. Apple Inc., in its first product unveiling since Steve Jobs resigned as chief executive officer, introduced a faster iPhone with voice features and a higher-resolution camera to help it vie with Google Inc.'s Android.
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Apple's new iPhone 5 smartphone is on display in an Apple store, on September 21, 2012 in Paris. The iPhone 5 goes on sale on September 21, 2012 in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
The Apple Inc. iPhone 5 is displayed inside the company's store on George Street in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. Apple Inc. is poised for a record iPhone 5 debut and may not be able to keep up with demand as customers line up from Sydney to New York to pick up the latest model of its top-selling product. The device hits stores in eight countries today at 8 a.m. local time, giving customers in Australia the first chance to buy the device.
(Ian Waldie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
An employee tests the fingerprint scanner on the new Apple iPhone 5S at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah September 19, 2013. The iPhone 5C, which comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white, starts in the U.S. at $99 with a contract and the pricier "5S" begins at $199 with a contract. Both models go on sale in several countries on September 20.
The gold colored version of the new iPhone 5S is displayed after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013.
Jesse Green from London poses with his iPhone 5S (L) and 5C (R) after being the second person to enter the Apple store after they went on sale in central London on September 20, 2013. Apple's eagerly-awaited iPhone 5S and 5C went of sale in London at 8am.
(BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
An employee shows the the backside of a new Apple iPhone 5C (R) and iPhone 5 S (L) at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah September 19, 2013. The iPhone 5C, which comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white, starts in the U.S. at $99 with a contract and the pricier "5S" begins at $199 with a contract. Both models go on sale in several countries on September 20.
A new Apple iPhone 5C is on display at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah September 19, 2013. The iPhone 5C, which comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white, starts in the U.S. at $99 with a contract and the pricier "5S" begins at $199 with a contract. Both models go on sale in several countries on September 20.
The new iPhone 5C is displayed during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California. The company launched the new iPhone 5C model that will run iOS 7 is made from hard-coated polycarbonate and comes in various colors and the iPhone 5S that features fingerprint recognition security.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., unveils the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus during a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Cook.
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A new Apple iPhone 6 Plus stands on display at the Apple Store on the first day of sales of the new phone in Germany on September 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of people had waited in a line that went around the block through the night in order to be among the first people to buy the new smartphone, which comes in two versions: the Apple iPhone 6 and the somewhat larger Apple iPhone 6 Plus.
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
An Apple Inc. iPhone 6 Plus, left, and iPhone 6 are displayed for a photograph inside SoftBank Corp.'s Omotesando store during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Apple stores attracted long lines of shoppers for the debut of the latest iPhones, indicating healthy demand for the bigger-screen smartphones.
(Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The new iPhone 6s Plus are display in a Softbank store at the high-end shopping district of Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 25, 2015. Apple sold its new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in Japan.
(David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2015. Apple unveiled its iPad Pro, saying the large-screen tablet has the power and capabilities to replace a laptop computer.
(Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Apple Inc. iPhone 6s smartphones stand next to packaging boxes in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The latest models, following last year's hugely popular design overhaul that added bigger screens, may not match the success of previous releases, according to analysts.
(Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
An iPhone 6S Plus is seen at the Apple retail store in Palo Alto, California September 25, 2015.
The new Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are displayed during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, September 9, 2015.
Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak introduces the iPhone SE during an event at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, March 21, 2016.
(REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo)
A rose gold iPhone SE (R) and an iPhone 6S Plus are seen at an Apple Store on March 31, 2016 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. Apple launched a new 4-inch iPhone SE globally on Thursday. Apple's new 4-inch iPhone SE packs almost all the power and features of the iPhone 6s into a package as small as - and even more affordable than - the iPhone 5s it replaces.
(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
An iPhone 7 is displayed in a store in London, Britain October 4, 2016.
Apple's new iPhone 7 smartphones sit on a shelf at an Apple store in Beijing, China, September 16, 2016.
Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple Inc, discusses the camera on the iPhone7 during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, U.S. September 7, 2016.
A customer touches the screen of an iPhone 7 inside the new Apple store Saint-Germain during the first opening day on December 03, 2016 in Paris, France. This store employs 120 people and has an area of 1,300 m2, it is the largest in the capital and it is the first in France to embrace the new design codes chosen by Apple for its shops. Apple store Marche Saint-Germain is the third store in Paris, the 20th in France and the 110th in Europe and will be the 489th in the world.
(Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
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What they found was one of the most powerful and invasive pieces of mobile malware yet uncovered. As Motherboard reports:
NOS's malware, which the company codenamed Pegasus, is designed to quietly infect an iPhone and be able to steal and intercept all data inside of it, as well as any communication going through it.
"It basically steals all the information on your phone, it intercepts every call, it intercepts every text message, it steals all the emails, the contacts, the FaceTime calls. It also basically backdoors every communications mechanism you have on the phone," [Lookout VP of research Mike] Murray explained. "It steals all the information in the Gmail app, all the Facebook messages, all the Facebook information, your Facebook contacts, everything from Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram—you name it."
Who's using this malware and why? And who's affected? The answers to those questions remain murky, but the researchers followed a digital trail back to a group of hackers called Stealth Falcon, which they believe may have ties to the UAE government. They also found similar links targeting people in Kenya, and a journalist in Mexico. When the security researchers found out about the malware, they told Apple, and the company spent 10 days building an update that would fix the security holes.
No matter who you are, if you have an iPhone running an older version of software, it's vulnerable to this specific spyware, so you should update as soon as possible. And after that, read the rest of the Motherboard report.