China Was Behind An iPhone Hack That Also Targeted Android And Windows

The attack that used websites to hack iPhones with malware is now believed to have originated in China and,to have targeted Android, and Microsoft Windows operating systems as well. The attack, revealed Aug. 30 by Google’s Project Zero was traced back at least two years.

Over the weekend TechCrunch broke the story linking China to the hack, quoting sources who say the campaign was targeting Uyghurs. Forbes has since confirmed the Chinese link with its own sources.

Uyghurs are an ethnic and religious group China considers to be state dissidence. In July 2018 China was accused of holding a million Uyghurs in “reeducation camps” something the Chinese government denies. However, in December 2019, China did broadcast the forced labor camps nationally. Recently, Reason Magazine released a mini documentary on the Uyghurs situation.

The hack proved a lot bigger than widely believed, impacting not just iOS, but most devices on the market. And, Chinese state actors as the perpetrators of the hack, highlights just how insufficient the bug bounty programs offered by major tech firms are at keeping the ecosystem secure. Apple’s million dollar bug bounty is surely dwarfed by the amount a government would pay for an exploit like this.

Non-Uyghurs have likely also been infected by the campaign. The websites that delivered the malware were reportedly indexed by Google search. And in July 2019 it was reported that Chinese border guards were installing spyware on the phones of people who entered some land borders into Xinjiang as well.

Header Image: “Flags, Shanghai, China” by cattan2011

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