China-Linked Espionage Campaign Targeting Apple's iPhones: BlackBerry Raises Alarm With New Report

Zinger Key Points
  • The recent spate of iPhone security alerts could have been a result of an espionage campaign.
  • Security researchers at BlackBerry have uncovered the return of the LightSpy campaign that was first reported in 2020.

The recent spate of security alerts popping up on Apple Inc.'s AAPL iPhones could be a result of an espionage campaign out of China, according to a new security report.

What Happened: BlackBerry BB has flagged a resurgence in the LightSpy mobile espionage campaign, with a particular focus on Southern Asia, including potential targets in India.

The LightSpy campaign, which was first reported in 2020, is a sophisticated iOS implant designed to extract private information from victims, including precise location data and sound recordings during VOIP calls.

The malware can also access a user’s contacts, SMS messages, phone call history, GPS location, connected WiFi history, and browser history.

The last campaign attributed to the LightSpy attacker was in 2020, amid escalating political tensions in Hong Kong. The malicious implants were distributed through “poisoned” news sites focused on polarizing issues in the Hong Kong region.

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The threat actor group thought to be behind this LightSpy campaign reportedly had active servers in China, Singapore, and Russia.

The targeting of individuals in Southern Asia, coupled with the suspected Chinese origin of the attackers, raises concerns about the potential motives and geopolitical implications of this campaign.

Though typically deployed against a very small percentage of individuals – most usually journalists, activists, politicians, and diplomats – hyper-focused spyware attacks are an ongoing and global threat.

See Also: ‘When Elon Musk Met Jack Ma And Instantly Regretted It’

"The extreme cost, sophistication, and worldwide nature of mercenary spyware attacks make them some of the most advanced digital threats in existence today," Apple wrote in its latest advisory.

Why It Matters: The resurgence of LightSpy comes at a time when the global tech community is grappling with a wave of sophisticated cyber threats.

Earlier this year, Alphabet Inc.'s Google reported a significant increase in China’s government-backed exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities, with the country’s cyber espionage groups exploiting 12 zero-day vulnerabilities in 2023, up from seven in 2022.

Security researchers have also uncovered another unnerving Apple security incident, where iPhones are said to have been backdoored for four years in the "most sophisticated attack chain ever."

Price Action: Apple's shares were up 0.3% in premarket trading on Wednesday after closing at $169.38 on Tuesday, according to Benzinga Pro.

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Read Next: Elon Musk Reacts As Marc Andreessen Says Google Is ‘Literally Run By Employee Mobs’ With ‘Chinese Spies’ Scooping Up AI Chip Designs

Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Photo courtesy: Shutterstock

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