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Apple’s iPhone Spyware Problem Is Getting Worse: What You Need to Know

Smartphone infected with spyware

The digital age has brought with it many advancements, but with these advancements come new challenges, one of which is the issue of spyware on smartphones. Apple’s iPhone, renowned for its security features, has recently been facing an escalating problem with spyware attacks. Reports have surfaced indicating that users in over 150 countries have been targeted by sophisticated spyware campaigns since 2021, with the latest being linked to a Chinese spyware campaign known as LightSpy.

LightSpy is a sophisticated iOS implant primarily used in espionage campaigns. It targets Apple device users and exfiltrates victims’ private information, including hyper-specific location data and sound recordings. The spyware has been distributed through compromised news sites and can harvest sensitive data from popular apps like Telegram, QQ, and WeChat. Recently, it has also been observed targeting macOS devices, posing a risk to businesses running Apple’s desktop machines.

One of the most concerning aspects of these spyware attacks is the use of “zero-click attacks,” which do not require the victim to click on a link or download an image. Instead, the spyware can be delivered via an iMessage or WhatsApp image that automatically plants the spyware on the device. This method was detailed by researchers who highlighted the use of an iMessage-based, zero-click exploit used to target a Saudi activist.

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Many users will never be targeted by such attacks, and Apple has been proactive in addressing these issues, sending out notifications to affected users and offering advice on how to protect oneself from these attacks. For iPhone users, it is crucial to stay informed about these developments and take proactive measures to protect your device and personal information. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Stay Updated. Keep your iPhone’s operating system up to date, automatically. Apple regularly releases security patches to address vulnerabilities. (Settings > General > Software Update)
  2. Be Cautious. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or opening unexpected attachments, even from trusted sources, especially those sent via text.
  3. Secure your Devices and Accounts. Use PIN codes, complex passwords, and multi-factor authentication on all your devices and accounts. This is paramount and will greatly reduce your risk of being compromised.
  4. Lockdown. If you believe you have been targeted by a sophisticated cyberattack, utilize Apple’s Lockdown Mode, which provides an extra layer of security. Please note this is an extreme step that only allows minimal functionality of your iPhone once enabled. (Settings > Privacy & Security > Lockdown Mode)
  5. Limit App Permissions. Review app permissions and restrict unnecessary access to sensitive data. For example, disable access to your microphone, camera, or photos for apps that don’t need it.
  6. Seek Assistance. Consider seeking assistance from security experts if you suspect your device and/or accounts may be compromised.

The rise of spyware attacks on iPhones is a reminder of the ongoing battle between technological advancement and cybersecurity. It is a complex issue that requires vigilance and proactive measures from both users and tech companies. By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, iPhone users can help safeguard their devices against these intrusive and dangerous attacks.

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Nicholas Himonidis and Simon Ragona Speak at NY AAML/AFCC CLE Event

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Experts from the NGH Group will be featured in two separate CLE presentations at the upcoming annual event hosted by the NY Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). The annual CLE Symposium will take place at the Harvard Club in Manhattan on May 3-4, 2024.

During the May 3 morning session, NGH Group CEO Nicholas G. Himonidis will take part in a panel discussion titled, “Would the Real Information Please Stand Up: Demystifying Spoofing and Fake ‘Evidence.’” A legal, forensic, and cryptocurrency expert with multiple certifications, Himonidis will offer insight into the many forms of altered and manipulated digital evidence presented in litigation, the technological advances (including AI) that have facilitated such evidence, and what lawyers need to do about it.

Simon Ragona, III, Senior Forensic Consultant with the NGH Group, will participate in two breakout sessions later that afternoon, both on “Gaming, Texting, Social Media: Blurred Parental Access Time.” The presentations will explore the effects of social media and digital interactions between children and their parents after a divorce, with the goal of helping families manage digital communication to promote the psychological well-being of children.

Learn More

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The NGH Group Releases ESI & Social Media Discovery Toolbox

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Nationally recognized e-discovery and computer forensic experts, the NGH Group has launched the ESI & Social Media Discovery Toolbox (ESI Toolbox). This subscription-based, online resource distills the experience of thousands of successful ESI and social media evidence requests into a concise, user-friendly platform. Attorneys will have all the tools and information required to obtain ESI and social media evidence, eliminating countless, frustrating hours searching for accurate, up-to-date service of process information and avoiding costly, time-consuming mistakes, such as omitting provider-specific requirements.

The $495 annual fee provides unlimited access to the following:

  • Accurate, up-to-date Service of Process Information, including provider-specific requirements to subpoena information from major data providers and social media platforms (e.g., Google, Facebook, Instagram, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Verizon, AT&T, etc.), as well as leading cryptocurrency and consumer payment providers (e.g., Coinbase, Bittrex, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, etc.)
  • How-to Guides for locating, downloading, and requesting ESI and social media evidence from specific service providers and platforms without a subpoena (when legally authorized)
  • Customizable Subpoena Templates for requesting specific types of ESI from service providers, including email and social media account holder identification, cellular subscriber information and cell tower location data, IP address assignment records, and account identification and transaction details from cryptocurrency exchanges and payment providers
  • Required (pre-filled) forms, detailed instructions, and checklists to comply with special procedures required by certain providers
  • Retention Period Data for major providers (i.e., which entities store what data types for how long)
  • Free Support, including access to experts in e-discovery and digital forensics

Frequent updates to this unique resource provide subscribers with current information from a growing library of service providers: social media, cryptocurrency, consumer payment platforms, webmail providers, cloud storage, cloud video services, Internet service providers, and cellular services.

The ESI Toolbox is as close to point-and-click e-discovery as you’ll ever find, prepared by experts in digital forensics and cyber investigations.

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Nassau Lawyer Features Cybersecurity Guidance for Attorneys from Nick Himonidis

Attorneys generate, send, and receive a great deal of sensitive and legally privileged data. These professionals are also responsible for keeping that information safe and secure. Ultimately the firm, not the firm’s IT people, are liable if that data is accessed, stolen, or compromised in some way.

In an article for Nassau Lawyer magazine, NGH Group CEO Nick Himonidis outlines how attorneys can better secure their electronic data and the devices that access it—from the phones in their pockets to the computers on their desks. The feature story includes guidance on the following:

  • Protecting smartphones from SIM swapping attacks
  • Identifying and fortifying potential “attack surfaces” on computers
  • Securing data on cloud storage services, such as OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.
  •  … and more

With a 2022 ABA survey showing that 27% of responding attorneys and law firms reported a data breach and court cases that have found law firms liable for the safety of client data, this article provides invaluable information from a recognized industry expert. Himonidis, a recognized expert in digital forensics and cyber security, is the co-chair of the Nassau County Bar Association Cyber Law Committee.

Read the article here.

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Crazy Money Podcast Features Nick Himonidis

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The podcast Crazy Money with Paul Ollinger recently featured NGH Group CEO Nick Himonidis in the episode “Finding Hidden Assets in Divorce Discovery with Nick Himonidis.”

With the experience of finding tens of millions of dollars in undisclosed assets, Mr. Himonidis offers insights into:

  • How he and his colleagues go about their work
  • Why you’ll probably get caught if you try to hide assets in a divorce proceeding
  • How to hire and work with a professional investigator while searching for assets

Mr. Himonidis also discusses the importance of vetting prospective investigators to ensure they operate within legal guidelines and with a high degree of professional ethics.

Whether the hidden assets are foreign bank accounts, cash equivalents in a safe deposit box, undisclosed real estate, or hundreds of thousands in cryptocurrency, learn how professionals find these assets by listening to this episode of the Crazy Money with Paul Ollinger podcast.

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CNBC Cites Himonidis as Expert on Cryptocurrency in Divorce

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On May 20, CNBC published an article on the challenges of tracking down cryptocurrency in divorce cases. Titled “A husband hid $500,000 in bitcoin during a divorce—and got busted by a crypto hunter,” the article includes insights from divorce attorneys, financial advisors, and cryptocurrency forensic investigators, including NGH Group President Nicholas Himonidis.

As licensed private investigators specializing in high-tech investigations, including computer forensics and cryptocurrency/blockchain forensics, the NGH Group has firsthand knowledge of how the cryptocurrency landscape continues to evolve. No longer just hunting down undisclosed bitcoin, the NGH Group conducts comprehensive cryptocurrency forensic investigations to locate and trace many forms of cryptocurrency and NFTs across multiple blockchains, providing critical evidence to attorneys and their clients.

“There’s not just a couple of blockchains to worry about anymore. There’s hundreds and hundreds of coins out there on their own little independent blockchains,” said Himonidis, who serves on the New York State Bar Association Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency and is co-chair of the Nassau County Bar Association Cyber Law Committee.

The NGH Group is one of very few private firms with access to—and certified in the use of—Chainalysis Reactor, one of the most powerful cryptocurrency forensic tools available. Tools like Reactor and Chainalysis Storyline allow the NGH Group to track cryptocurrency and NFTs across multiple blockchains and remain on the cutting edge of identifying and tracing crypto assets.

Read the full CNBC article here.

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Nicholas Himonidis to Speak at AAML-AFCC Joint Conference

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NGH Group CEO Nicholas G. Himonidis will be a featured speaker at the “2023 Conference on Advanced Issues in Child Custody: Evaluation, Litigation, and Settlement,” held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., on September 28-30. The event is co-hosted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC).

Mr. Himonidis will lecture on “Authentication of Digital Media in Child Custody Cases: Checking the Evidence” on Thursday, September 28, and again on Saturday, September 30. His presentation will highlight how to determine whether digital evidence is reliable and legitimate, as well as how to review and authenticate data that will be admissible in court.

On Friday, September 29, Mr. Himonidis will join a panel discussion on “Technology and Evidentiary Issues in Child Custody Cases.” This moderated event will address how child custody evaluators, attorneys, judges, and technology experts confront the issue of authenticity and the criteria used.

An attorney himself, Mr. Himonidis has been qualified in court as an expert witness in the field of Computer Forensics and the Authentication of Digital Evidence, and he was recently appointed Co-Chair of the Nassau County Bar Association Cyber Law Committee.

For more information or to register, please visit the conference website.

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NGH Group Founder to Speak at Global Symposium on High-Tech Legal Challenges

Nicholas G. Himonidis, founder and CEO of the NGH Group, will be a featured speaker at “Deep Dive into the Metaverse and Web3: The First Global Law Symposium.” Presented by the New York State Bar Association Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency, the two-day program will take place April 28-29, 2023, at the New York University School of Professional Studies.

The symposium will explore the global nature of Web3, the Metaverse, and Digital Assets in the law, as well as the ever-evolving legal challenges presented by this technology. Attendees of the event, which will also be live-streamed, will receive 9 CLE credits.

On April 28, Mr. Himonidis will speak on “What to Do When Your Client Receives Digital Assets During a Divorce and/or as Part of an Inheritance? A Family Law and Trust & Estates Update.” A certified expert in cryptocurrency and an attorney, he serves as Co-Chair of the Nassau County Bar Association Cyber Law Committee and is a member of the New York State Bar Association Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency. He has been qualified and court-appointed as an expert in Computer Forensics and Digital Evidence, as well as cryptocurrency forensics. He is one of the very few Certified Cryptocurrency Forensic Investigators (CCFI) in the United States and also holds the Chainalysis Reactor Certification credential (CRC).

For more information or to register, visit the event website.

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Satisfy Mandatory Cybersecurity CLE at MatLaw Seminar

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NGH Group CEO Nicholas G. Himonidis will be a featured speaker at the Spring 2023 MatLaw Seminar, “Courtroom Evidence 2023: Selected Issues and Recurrent Problems,” on May 19 in Albany (also streaming online). The program will include a new mandatory CLE required course, “Privacy and Data Protection,” presented by Mr. Himonidis, and offers seven CLE credits.

A certified expert in cryptocurrency and an attorney himself, Mr. Himonidis has more than 30 years of experience in fraud investigations, computer forensics, and law. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a Certified Computer Forensic Specialist (CCFS), one of the very few Certified Cryptocurrency Forensic Investigators (CCFI) in the United States, and he holds the Chainalysis Reactor Certification (CRC) credential.

He has been qualified in court as an expert witness in the field of Computer Forensics and the Authentication of Digital Evidence and has lectured extensively and published numerous articles on various technical, investigative, and legal topics, including accredited CLE programs on cybersecurity issues for attorneys and their clients in matrimonial litigation. He was recently appointed Co-Chair of the Nassau County Bar Association Cyber Law Committee.

The seminar will include the following:

  • The Hearsay Rule and Its Exceptions
  • Privacy and Data Protection
  • Expert Evidence: Reliability and Validity; Admissibility Standards & Issues
  • Credibility & Cross-Examination

For more information or to register, visit the event website.

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NGH Group Certified in Chainalysis Reactor, the World’s Leading Crypto/Blockchain Investigation Platform

Following a rigorous vetting process and extensive education and training, the NGH Group is now one of the few private-sector firms certified in the use of Chainalysis Reactor, the world’s leading cryptocurrency and blockchain investigation tool. Until recently, this ground-breaking technology was only available to law enforcement, government agencies, financial regulators, and financial institutions that operated in the crypto space.

Full access to this comprehensive suite of tools allows the NGH Group to trace crypto funds and analyze transactions to pinpoint intersections between cryptocurrency and fiat currency—a critical step to finding and pursuing recovery of crypto assets. Reactor also permits the identification of crypto addresses and wallets that appear to be controlled by the same person or entity, assets that may not have been previously disclosed. 

“Identifying and tracing crypto assets differs fundamentally from any other form of financial investigation, and it requires very high-tech tools and methodologies,” notes NGH Group founder and CEO Nicholas G. Himonidis, a Certified Cryptocurrency Forensic Investigator and qualified expert witness in cryptocurrency forensics. “Through Chainalysis Reactor, the NGH Group can now provide law firms, forensic accountants and other financial professionals, and even law enforcement with more accurate, more comprehensive, and far more efficient cryptocurrency investigations than previously possible.

 “For anyone needing to identify or trace crypto assets and activity in a divorce proceeding, commercial transaction, hacking, theft, or scam case, this is a game changer.”

 With multiple certifications in the digital forensic field, as well as a background as a practicing attorney, Himonidis is considered one of the country’s leading experts in the field. Recognizing that expertise, the New York State Bar Association appointed Himonidis to its recently formed Task Force on Emerging Digital Finance and Currency. 

 For assistance with cryptocurrency and blockchain investigations, or help with other high-tech investigative solutions, contact the NGH Group.