Chinese authorities are attacking users who are connecting to Apple’s iCloud website in what appears to be a surveillance push to steal users’ login credentials, according to a Chinese censorship monitoring group.
In the attack, which was first reported over the weekend, less than 24 hours after the new iPhone 6 went on sale in China, connections to iCloud.com were hijacked and stripped of the usual encryption that prevents hackers and government spies from intercepting the username and password typed by someone connecting to the site.
This is another example of what is technically known as a “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attack, in which an attacker intercepts a connection between a user and a website in order to steal or tamper with the data being exchanged. In the past year alone, China has been accused of intercepting connections with a MITM attack against Github, Google, and, more recently, Yahoo, in what was seen as an attempt to censor information on the Hong Kong protests.
After several users reported the attack online, the anti-Chinese censorship activist group GreatFire tweeted about the MITM attack on Saturday. The group later published more details in a blog post on Monday.
It’s unclear whether the attack is being carried out by the Chinese government (calls to China’s embassy press line did not receive an answer), but such an attack can only be performed by telecom providers or the government, according to experts.
This would indicate that China is ready to increase its already tight grip on the internet.
“If true, it would seem to be a big deal, targeting even larger groups of people,” Adam Segal, a Council on Foreign Relations expert on cybersecurity and China, told Mashable.
“[It’s] part of the trend of controlling and monitoring web services even more closely.
Connections to iCloud.com were still affected at the time of writing, according to a test performed for Mashable by Zola Zhou, a Chinese blogger. (Apple did not answer Mashable’s request for comment.)
The attack on iCloud.com came just several weeks after another, which went almost unnoticed. This MITM attack affected users connecting to Microsoft’s Hotmail and Live.com.
“This certainly is becoming a trend,” Michael Carbone, a technologist at the human rights organization Access, told Mashable. “It lets Silicon Valley know that even if you are very cooperative with Chinese government authorities your customers may get targeted.”
Full article: iCloud users’ login details apparently being intercepted in China (The Age)