Author: Alex Hern
Visiting hacked sites was enough for server to gather users' images and contacts.
An unprecedented iPhone hacking operation, which attacked “thousands of users a week” until it was disrupted in January, has been revealed by researchers at Google’s external security team.
The operation, which lasted two and a half years, used a small collection of hacked websites to deliver malware on to the iPhones of visitors. Users were compromised simply by visiting the sites: no interaction was necessary, and some of the methods used by the hackers affected even fully up-to-date phones.
Once hacked, the user’s deepest secrets were exposed to the attackers. Their location was uploaded every minute; their device’s keychain, containing all their passwords, was uploaded, as were their chat histories on popular apps including WhatsApp, Telegram and iMessage, their address book, and their Gmail database.
The one silver lining is that the implant was not persistent: when the phone was restarted, it was cleared from memory unless the user revisited a compromised site. However, according to Ian Beer, a security researcher at Google: “Given the breadth of information stolen, the attackers may nevertheless be able to maintain persistent access to various accounts and services by using the stolen authentication tokens from the keychain, even after they lose access to the device.”
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