Hackers Used Local News Sites to Install Spyware On iPhones
A newly discovered watering-hole campaign is targeting Apple iPhone users in Hong Kong by using malicious website links as a lure to install spyware on the devices.
According to research published by Trend Micro and Kaspersky, the “Operation Poisoned News” attack leverages a remote iOS exploit chain to deploy a feature-rich implant called ‘LightSpy’ through links to local news websites, which
As per the survey report published by Trend Micro and Kaspersky, the "Operation Poisoned News" attack leverages a remote iOS exploit chain to deploy a feature-rich implant called 'LightSpy' through links to local news websites, which when clicked, executes the malware payload and allows an interloper to exfiltrate sensitive data from the affected device and even take full control.
Watering-hole attacks typically let a bad actor compromise a specific group of end-users by infecting websites that they are known to visit, with an intention to gain access to the victim's device and load it with malware.
The APT group, dubbed "TwoSail Junk" by Kaspersky, is said to be leveraging vulnerabilities present in iOS 12.1 and 12.2 spanning all models from iPhone 6 to the iPhone X, with the attacks first identified on January 10, before intensifying around February 18.
It is suspected the TwoSail Junk gang is connected to, or possibly the same, as the operators of "dmsSpy," an Android variant of the same malware that was distributed last year through open Telegram channels under the guise of Hong Kong protest calendar apps among others.
"dmsSpy's download and command-and-control servers used the same domain name (hkrevolution[.]club) as one of the watering holes used by the iOS component of Poisoned News," the researchers observed.
Once installed, these rogue Android apps harvested and exfiltrated contacts, text messages, the user's location, and the names of stored files.
"This particular framework and infrastructure is an interesting example of an agile approach to developing and deploying surveillance framework in Southeast Asia," Kaspersky researchers concluded.
Trend Micro, for its part, suggested the design and functionality of the campaign aim to compromise as many mobile devices as possible to enable device backdooring and surveillance.
To mitigate such threats, it's essential that users keep their devices up-to-date and avoid sideloading apps on Android from unauthorized sources.