Occupy Central Update: Hong Kong Protesters Being Targeted With iOS, Android Spyware

As thousands of Hong Kong protesters gather for Occupy Central, a security firm revealed that a spyware app is being used against them, according to The Register.

Lacoon Mobile Security, a tech security company based in Israel, claimed that a spyware disguised as an app to help organize the pro-democracy rallies is being distributed among the protesters.

According to the company, the spyware is called the Xsser mRAT and is targeting iOS and Android users, Time reported.

Ohad Bobrov, founder of Lacoon, explained that once installed on an iOS device, Xsser mRAT collects virtual data from the user. This includes email addresses, email messages and even usernames and passwords for Apple-related services.

"When infected, Xsser mRAT exposes virtually any information on iOS devices including SMS, email and instant messages, and can also reveal location data, usernames and passwords, call logs and contact information," he said.

As for its Android counterpart, the spyware was released through a WhatsApp message invitation which told users that it would help organize the protests. However, protesters clarified that the app did not come from the Occupy Central movement, according to Venture Beat.

Bobrov speculated that the Chinese Government may be the entity behind the distribution of the spyware due to its ability to affect multiple operating systems.

This suggest that the culprits have a wide variety of resources available to them to target both Android and iOS devices.

"Cross-platform attacks that target both IOS and Android devices are rare, and indicate that this may be conducted by a very large organization or nation state," Bobrov said.

"The fact that this attack is being used against protesters and is being executed by Chinese-speaking attackers suggests it's [the] first iOS Trojan linked to Chinese Government cyber activity," he added.

The Occupy Central, also known as the Umbrella Movement, was initially started by students on Sept. 27 to protest the Chinese government's exclusive decision to choose candidates for the 2017 elections in Hong Kong. 

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