iOS Spyware Targets Hong Kong Protesters

iOS Spyware Targets Hong Kong Protesters
JESHOOTS / Pixabay

Hong Kong protesters are targeted by spyware in their iOS phones and some security experts believe it may be the work of China’s government officials.

New trojan affects Apple iOS users

Yesterday it was revealed by Lacoon Mobile Security of a new trojan called Xsser mRar which is disguised as a fake application to monitor protester activities. This trojan is similar to the Android version that was distributed in a Chinese city. This trojan is delivered to WhatsApp users with the following message, “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK for the coordination of OCCUPY CENTRAL!”

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Those who click on the link are then infected with the advance mobile Remote Access Trojan which subsequently infects and can access personal data, listen in on phone calls, and track physical locations. Code4HK (a programming community) does not have anything to do with this phishing incident despite it’s support for democracy. At least that is what Lacoon’s CTO Ohad Bobrov summed it up in a blog post, “Cross-platform attacks that target both iOS and Android devices are rare. The fact that this attack is being used against protesters and is being executed by Chinese-speaking attackers suggests it’s first iOS trojan linked to Chinese government cyber activity.”

Protesters look for new ways to communicate

It is no secret Hong Kong residents have been relying on technologies and social media programs during the protests, however information exchanges are often challenged. One example of such challenges was when Facebook’s photo sharing app Instagram was blocked in China after protesters posted photos and videos with #OccupyCentral. This prompted some protesters to pick up another mobile messaging app for offline communications. That service is free FireChat and it has been downloaded 100,000 times in Hong Kong between Sunday and Monday. This app makes it easy for users to share messages offline when there is no call service range or internet connection.

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