A recent massive iPhone hack found by Google scientists might have been a project to target Uighur Muslims, an oppressed ethnic minority living in China, TechCrunch and Forbes report.
The hack emerged recently, when scientists at Google’s cybersecurity wing Project Zero reported they had discovered a handful of websites which had actually been secretly injecting spyware into iPhones throughout 2 years.
The researchers said in a blog post released Thursday that there was “no target discrimination,” which the hack allowed access to individual messages, images, and real-time area data, an amazing breadth of information.
Google didn’t call the sites or state exactly how many there were, but stated that each website got thousands of hits per week.
Find out more: This map reveals a trillion-dollar reason why China is oppressing more than a million Muslims
TechCrunch was the first to report that the sites belonged to a state-backed campaign to target Uighur people, mentioning sources familiar with the matter. Forbes later on verified this with its own sources, and included that the hack had also impacted devices running Google’s Android operating system and Microsoft’s Windows.
The Uighurs are a primarily Muslim and heavily-surveilled minority living in China’s Xinjiang region. Chinese authorities have actually detained somewhere between 1 and 2 million Uighur individuals in prison camps, explaining it as a counter-terrorism measure.
One source told TechCrunch that some non-Uighur people were unintentionally contaminated because the sites could be found in Google search, and the FBI asked Google to de-index the websites. The FBI declined to comment when called by TechCrunch.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft did not right away react to Organisation Expert’s request for remark.
A Microsoft spokesperson said: “Google Project Zero was really specific in its article that the recently advertised attacks utilized unique iPhone exploits and they have not revealed comparable information to us. Microsoft has a strong commitment to investigate noted security concerns and, needs to new details be revealed, we will take proper action as needed to help keep consumers protected.”