Apple In Between China-America Cyber War?

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Apple’s iCloud Data Hacked In China: Are Chinese Authorities Backing The Hackers?

Apple’s iCloud service in mainland China has been hacked, according to reports.

The perpetrators of the cyber-attack are allegedly able to access customers’ usernames, passwords and other personal data, raising fresh fears over the security of Apple’s systems. Using what is called a “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attack, the hackers interpose their own website between users and Apple‘s iCloud server, intercepting data and potentially gaining access to passwords, iMessages, photos and contacts, Greatfire.org wrote in its blog post.

The revelations, if true, would be a little surprising to China observers. But it would be a comeuppance for Apple whose decision to store users’ data in mainland servers underlined the tenuous balance that the foreign tech companies must strike between commitment to customer security and the realities of the Chinese market. Although the attack most likely could not have been staged without knowledge of Internet providers like China Telecom, given they appeared to originate from deep within the Chinese domestic internet backbone.

Whoever is at fault, the security breach is likely to stoke tensions between America and China, who are already locked in a tit-for-tat cyber war.

America has for years argued that Chinese technology is unsafe because it could be used to help Beijing spy. More recently, China has cautioned officials against using Apple products on the same grounds that, America could use them to spy on China.

It’s evident that it’s quite massive; the attack was quite sophisticated in that they apparently have quite a huge system set up in order to be able to intercept on such a large scale.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said it was not aware of an attack on Apple’s servers, and that Beijing is opposed to cyber-hacking. Also the accusation is untrue and unfounded according to the Chinese Telecom spokesman.

Storing data on mainland servers would give Apple users faster service speeds and lower latency, the delay between internet signals. Technology companies seek to position data centres as close to their customers as possible. However in addition to the threat of hacking, having servers in China could also expose users to more scrutiny by government agencies, who could legally request user data.

Apple declined to say what commitments it had made to the Chinese government regarding the disposal of user data stored in China.

Apple said in a statement that it was “aware of intermittent organised network attacks” but that they did not compromise iCloud servers. “Apple is deeply committed to protecting our customers’ privacy and security,” it added.

Either way, the reported assault comes at a sensitive time for the company.

Last month, hackers targeted the iCloud accounts of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, in fashion that they could access and publish their nude photographs.

The incident immediately raised alarm bells about the security of Apple’s iCloud, although the company has since stressed that the attack only affected a few, carefully targeted celebrities.

Meanwhile, Apple is also working hard to improve its standing in China. Chief executive Tim Cook has made considerable headway in the territory, forging a deal with China Mobile – the country, and the world’s largest mobile phone operator. However, Apple slid back again afterwards, after the government banned certain products and allegedly delayed the launch of the iPhone 6 in the territory.

Ratanpriya Sharma

Image Source [The Viewspaper]

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