AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.
The recently-revealed use of hacked websites to monitor iPhone users, is now reported to have been used by the Chinese government to target the Uyghur Muslim community.
The Chinese government has allegedly been using a series of hacked websites to exploit vulnerabilities in iPhones and track the location details of members of the Uyghur Muslims community. It's claimed that the government was doing this for two years, and comes alongside the use of internment camps in Beijing.
Any user, Uyghur Muslim or not, visiting a compromised website directly or tricked into it via a link, would unknowingly have their iPhone attacked in an attempt to install tracking software.
While unnamed sources report that the intention was to target this religious group, the iPhone attacks affected anyone exposed to the site. These sites, which are not being named for safety reasons, were sufficiently popular and accessed that they were automatically indexed in Google's search engine.
Reportedly, the FBI asked Google to remove the sites from the search index specifically to prevent any other users being exploited.
Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) found the site, or sites, and the vulnerabilities. It reported them to Apple in February and Apple patched the problem, effectively switching off this particular technique with the release of iOS 12.1.4 later that month.
At the time, neither Google or Apple would say whether they knew of a specific group using this exploit.