Apple urges people to update their phones after a 'terrifying' hack was discovered
via Richard Patterson / Flickr

A spyware company has developed an easy way to take over any Apple computer, watch, or iPhone so the software giant is asking everyone to update their devices. The malicious software attacks Apple devices through the iMessage app.

"It's absolutely terrifying," said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at The Citizen Lab, the company that discovered the hack and reported it to Apple.

What's scary about the hack is that it doesn't require the victim to download or click on anything to take effect. A device can be taken over by simply receiving a message. In the cybersecurity industry, it's known as a "zero-click" exploit.


People who have been attacked by the hack are extremely unlikely to know anything happened. "The user sees crickets while their iPhone is silently exploited," Scott-Railton said. "Someone sends you a GIF that isn't, and then you're in trouble. That's it. You don't see a thing."

The Citizen Lab says the hack has been around since February. It was created by NSO Group, an Israeli company that sells its hacking software to "vetted" customers across the world for counterterrorism and law enforcement purposes.

After the attack was discovered by The Citizen Lab and reported to Apple, it created a fix that's available to users in its latest iOS or Mac OS updates. However, most users shouldn't be too concerned about the hack unless they believe they're being targeted by a government that uses NSO's software.

"This will prevent you from being infected with this exploit going forward," Scott-Railton said. "But what we know is NSO is always trying to find other ways to infect people's phones, and they may turn to something else."

Apple thanked The Citizen Lab for notifying them of the hack. "Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals," Ivan Krstić, Apple's head of Security Engineering and Architecture, said in a statement.

The hack was developed by NSO Group to deploy Pegasus, the spyware it sells to governments around the world to surveil suspected criminals or terrorists. NSO Group claims that the software is only used for those purposes but it's been found on devices belonging to human rights activists, dissidents, and journalists.

The hack was discovered by The Citizen Lab on the phone of a Saudi dissident. "In this case, it's pretty clear that this person was targeted for being an activist and not for any other reason," Bill Marczak, a Citizen Lab senior research fellow, said according to Today.

The company insists that it can't be used to target Americans' phones. Facebook has accused NSO Group of hacking over 1,400 mobile devices using WhatsApp. NSO has disputed the accusation.

How to update your iPhone:

  1. Plug your device into power and connect to the internet with Wi-Fi.
  2. Go to Settings > General, then tap Software Update.
  3. Tap Install Now. If you see Download and Install instead, tap it to download the update, enter your passcode, then tap Install Now.





Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."