Apple says iPhone attack was targeted at Chinese Muslim minority group

Apple says iPhone attack was targeted at Chinese Muslim minority group
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Apple says that the iPhone vulnerabilities disclosed by Google last week were targeted at the Uighur ethnic group, an oppressed minority in China, and were not as widespread as the internet search giant had claimed.

Apple criticized its rival Google for “stoking fear among all iPhone users that their devices had been compromised,” noting that the revelation came six months after Apple had patched its software.

“The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community,” Apple said in a blog post. “Regardless of the scale of the attack, we take the safety and security of all users extremely seriously.”

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Google’s cybersecurity team, Project Zero, published a blog post last week reporting that a group of hacked websites had been equipped with the ability to “exploit iPhones en masse.”

Apple also said on Friday that the hacked websites were operational for roughly two months, whereas Google reported that its findings “indicated a group making a sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years.”

“Project Zero posts technical research that is designed to advance the understanding of security vulnerabilities, which leads to better defensive strategies,” Google said in a statement emailed to The Hill on Friday. “We stand by our in-depth research which was written to focus on the technical aspects of these vulnerabilities. We will continue to work with Apple and other leading companies to help keep people safe online.”

China in recent years has been spying on, rounding up and imprisoning ethnic Uighur Muslims in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region. Apple did not say whether it suspected the Chinese government was behind the attacks.