Amid Its Covid-19 Crisis, China Was Still Hacking Uighurs’ iPhones

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ANDY GREENBERG
04.22.2020 05:20 PM

CHINA MAY HAVE been one of the first countries to lock down over the first months of 2020, as Covid-19 began its global spread. But that didn't stop suspected Chinese spies from carrying out a new smartphone-hacking campaign aimed at one of their favorite targets: the country's Uighur ethnic minority.

From as early as December of last year and continuing through March, Chinese hackers used so-called "watering hole" attacks to plant malware on the iPhones of Uighurs, according to new findings from the security firm Volexity. To do so, a hacker group that Volexity calls Evil Eye compromised popular Uighur websites, including the news and education site Uyghur Academy and the Uighur Times news outlet. Visiting those sites on an iPhone would automatically infect the device with sophisticated spyware designed to gain access to its data, particularly messaging applications.

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