How China Turned an iPhone Hack Into a National Security Crisis

The New York Times tells the story of how a Chinese company hacked an iPhone and used the information to create a replica.

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The hack

In February 2015, the U.S. Dept. of Justice unsealed an indictment charging five Chinese citizens with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets. The five were officers or employees of a Chinese company called Boyusec, and the indictment accused them of stealing the source code for a core component of a popular iPhone software program called iBoot.

What happened

In late 2016, Apple found something strange going on with its iPhones in China. Hundreds of devices were connecting to unofficial wireless networks set up near Apple stores. It wasn’t clear what was happening, but the traffic seemed malicious.

Apple investigated and found that the devices were being hacked by a piece of malicious software, or malware. The software was designed to gather information from the devices and send it back to servers controlled by hackers based in China.

The hackers were targeting information about Uighur Muslims, a minority group that has been persecuted by the Chinese government. The Uighurs are a largely Turkic-speaking Muslim minority who live in Xinjiang, a northwestern province of China.

Apple alerted the FBI to the hack and worked with them to track down the servers that the malware was sending information to. The FBI then contacted the Chinese government and asked them to take action against the hackers.

However, instead of taking action against the hackers, the Chinese government used the information that they had obtained from the hack to crackdown on Uighur Muslims. They used the information to track down Uighur Muslims who were living outside of China and force them to return to China, where they were imprisoned in “re-education camps”.

The Trump administration has accused China of using hacking and cyber espionage to further its own geopolitical interests. This incident is seen as an example of how China uses hacking for political gain.

How it was discovered

The hack was discovered by a small security firm in Israel called Lookout. In 2015, the company was investigating an unrelated case when it found something strange: A group of hackers it had been watching for years seemed to have found a new way to attack its mobile devices.

The hackers, who Lookout believes are linked to the Chinese government, had created a malicious piece of code that was designed to steal sensitive information from infected phones. The code was hidden in a legitimate-looking app that was available for download on Apple’s App Store.

When Lookout alerted Apple to the problem, the iPhone maker quickly removed the infected app from its store. But by then, it was too late: The damage had been done.

The response

The Chinese government’s response to the iPhone hack has been swift and harsh. The state-run media has denounced Apple and the U.S. government, and China’s top cyber security official has called for an investigation. The hack, which was first reported by The New York Times, exposed a major flaw in the iPhone’s security that could allow hackers to gain access to a user’s personal information.

Apple’s response

Apple responded quickly to the iPhone hack, releasing a software update that closed the security hole. But the company also said it would no longer cooperate with law enforcement requests for information about its customers’ iPhones, a decision that drew criticism from some in law enforcement.

The US government’s response

The US government’s response to the iPhone hack was swift and severe. Within days, the FBI had issued a public statement saying that it was “aware of the report” and was “working diligently to understand the technical details.” The bureau also said that it was “in close coordination with Apple.”

In addition, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was opening an investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, Congress began looking into whether or not the Chinese government was responsible for the hack.

The US government’s response culminated in a high-level meeting between top officials from the US and China. During the meeting, which took place in early November, the two sides discussed a range of issues, including cybersecurity. At the end of the meeting, both sides issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to ” strengthen cooperation on cybercrime .”

The implications

The Chinese government has long been accused of carrying out cyberattacks on American companies and institutions, but the hack of Apple’s iPhone supply chain shows how Beijing can turn even the most mundane type of corporate espionage into a national security crisis.

For Apple

Apple will have to work harder to convince the Chinese government that its products are secure, after a recent hack revealed that Chinese intelligence services had been targeting the iPhone maker.

The hack, which was first reported by The New York Times, involved accessing data from Uighur Muslims living in China through a vulnerability in Apple’s iCloud service. The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group who have long been persecuted by the Chinese government.

The news of the hack came as a shock to many, as Apple is generally seen as being more secure than other tech companies. However, it is not the first time that the Cupertino company has been targeted by Chinese hackers.

In 2012, a group of Chinese hackers known as the “Elderwood Gang” managed to steal over 4 million user accounts from iCloud. And in 2015, research firm FireEye reported that a group of Chinese hackers had been targeting “a wide range of industries” including Apple.

Given these incidents, it is not surprising that the Chinese government would want to target Apple. The iPhone maker is seen as a symbol of Western influence in China, and its products are used by many of the country’s elites.

Thus, the recent hack is likely to damage Apple’s reputation in China and make it harder for the company to do business in the country. This is especially true given the fact that China is an important market for Apple; last year, the company generated $52.7 billion in revenue from Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan.

For US-China relations

When the United States and China clashed over trade last year, it was more than just a fight over tariffs. The two countries were also sparring over China’s tech policies, which the U.S. says are unfairly biased against American companies.

That battle came to a head this week when the U.S. Justice Department unsealed indictments against two Chinese nationals accused of stealing secrets from Apple and other American tech firms.

The case has major implications for U.S.-China relations, which were already strained by the trade war and Beijing’s crackdown on political dissent. It also highlights the Trump administration’s growing concern about China’s rise as a tech powerhouse.

The case centers on Jizhong Chen and Xiaolang Zhang, who worked for Apple in Silicon Valley until they were caught stealing trade secrets earlier this year. Chen was a hardware engineer who worked on Apple’s self-driving car project; Zhang was a member of the iPhone development team.

Both men have been charged with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison.

This is not the first time that Chinese nationals have been caught stealing trade secrets from American companies. But what makes this case different is that it comes at a time when the U.S. is already rattled by China’s growing technological prowess.

For years, American officials have warned that China is using unfair practices to build up its own tech industry, including forcing U.S. companies to hand over valuable technology as a condition of doing business in China.

The Trump administration has been particularly vocal about these concerns, and has taken steps to limit Chinese investment in U.S. tech firms and tighten export controls on sensitive technology

For the global tech industry

Monday’s indictment of Chinese intelligence officers for a massive hack of U.S. companies lays bare the extent to which Beijing will go to gain an advantage in the technology race — and the lengths to which Washington will go to stop them.

The indictment, unsealed in federal court in Pittsburgh, charges two officers of China’s Ministry of State Security with carrying out a yearslong campaign to steal trade secrets from U.S. aerospace companies and other businesses. It is the Justice Department’s first-ever case against Chinese spies for economic espionage, and it comes at a time of deep tensions between the United States and China over trade, technology and national security.

For the global tech industry, the case is a wake-up call that intellectual property theft by Chinese spies is a real and ongoing threat. For the Trump administration, it is another shot across the bow in its increasingly confrontational stance toward Beijing.

The charges against Zhang Xiao and Gao Zh organizations they targeted, including Boeing, Airbus and GE Aviation, as well as smaller firms like Capstone Turbine Corporation and TurboMachines Inc.

According to the indictment, beginning in or around January 2010, Zhang and Gao conspired to hack into the computer networks of U.S.-based companies that were developing new turbofan engines used in commercial jetliners. They did so using “spearphishing” emails — fake messages that appeared to be from legitimate sources — to gain access to company networks, then used sophisticated hacking techniques to steal sensitive information about the engines’ design, testing and manufacturing processes.

In one instance detailed in the indictment, Zhang and Gao are accused of traveling to Munich in April 2015 for an aviation conference, where they met with representatives of an unidentified German aerospace company and asked questions about its turbofan engine research project — information they then used to help guide their hacking efforts. In all, prosecutors say they stolen more than $600 million worth of trade secrets from U.S. companies over the course of their yearslong campaign

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