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.





Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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