Menu
Malware program targets Hong Kong protesters using Apple devices

Malware program targets Hong Kong protesters using Apple devices

The program is related to an Android one that seeks to spy on activists, Lacoon Mobile Security said

How a malware program targeting Hong Kong protesters using Apple devices works

How a malware program targeting Hong Kong protesters using Apple devices works

A malware program that targets Hong Kong activists using Apple devices has trademarks of being developed by a nation-state, possibly China, according to a security company.

Lacoon Mobile Security of San Francisco wrote on its blog on Tuesday that the malware, called Xsser mRAT, is the "first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date."

The Apple malware is related to a malicious Android one found last month that advertised itself as a way for activists to coordinate protests, Lacoon wrote.

Hong Kong has seen massive demonstrations after China moved to only allow candidates it approves to run in the election of the territory's chief executive in 2017. Activists charge China reneged on a promise of an election without restrictions.

It's not usual to see malware emerge that has been customized to capitalize on current events, and security experts have long documented programs suspected to have been created to monitor dissidents and activists.

Xsser mRAT can steal SMS messages, call logs, location data, photos, address books, data from the Chinese messaging application Tencent and passwords from the iOS keychain, Lacoon wrote.

"Although it shows initial signs of being a targeted attack on Chinese protesters, the full extent of how Xsser mRAT is being used is anyone's guess," the company wrote. "It can cross borders easily, and is possibly being operated by a Chinese-speaking entity to spy on individuals, foreign companies or even entire governments."

However, there is a saving grace: only iOS devices that have been jailbroken, or modified to run unauthorized apps, would be able to run the malware, according to Lacoon. Apple tightly vets the applications on its App Store and advises that people do not jailbreak their devices.

Lacoon wrote that the Android version was making the rounds through links distributed on the messaging application WhatsApp. The messages came from an unknown phone number, reading: "Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK, group of activist coders, for the coordination of Occupy Central!"

Code4HK told the South China Morning Post newspaper that it had nothing to do with the application, according to a Sept. 17 story.

Lacoon found the same server used to control the Android malware also hosted the iOS malware. Such targeting of both Android and iOS devices is rare, the company wrote, which may "indicate that this may be conducted by a very large organization or nation state."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Lacoon Mobile Securitysecuritymobile securitymalware

Featured

Slideshows

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017

Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017

​The New Year brings the usual new round of humdrum technology predictions, glaringly general, unashamedly safe and perpetually predictable. But while the industry no longer sees value in “cloud is now the norm” type projections, value can be found in following developments of the year previous, analysing behaviours and patterns to formulate a plan for the 12 months ahead. Consequently, here’s the top Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017...

Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017
Show Comments