The unprecedented iPhone hack is bigger than we initially imagined. Sources gathered by Forbes reveal that devices running Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows operating system were also targeted in what Google described as an “indiscriminate” attack.
Recently, TechCrunch learned that the massive hack was actually a state-backed attack specifically designed to target the Uyghur community, living in the Xinjiang state of China.
Last week, security researchers at Google said a number of malicious websites were hacking iPhones for the past two years. In a long blog post, Google revealed that simply visiting the booby-trapped website was enough to implant malicious software that could collect data, images, and contacts.
A source claimed that the same websites were used to target Android devices and Windows PCs. And hackers updated their methodology overtime on the basis of technological usage of the Uyghur community.
For over a year, Uyghurs have been subjected to human rights violations and prosecution by Beijing. Numerous reports claim that China has detained over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps.
In recent months, China has also installed crude sophisticated surveillance systems that include face recognition to keep a tap on Uyghurs. The two-year iPhone hack appears to be a newer addition to it.
Many non-Uyghurs could also have been affected by the attack. A source told TechCrunch that websites were indexed in Google results owning to which, many users might have accessed these domains.
It is unclear whether Google knew of the hackers motive and inclusiveness of Android in the hacking campaign. A source told Forbes that Google was only focused on the iOS exploits by these websites.
Google disclosed the vulnerabilities to the Apple, back in February and days later, Apple rolled out a fix in the form of iOS 12.1.4.