Tuesday January 21, 2020
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iPhone Bug also Accessed WhatsApp, Telegram Chats, Identify Google Researchers

“We estimate that these sites receive thousands of visitors per week,” said the Google blog post

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A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

Google researchers have identified a vulnerability that accessed all the database files on the victim’s iPhone used by end-to-end encryption apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and iMessage.

In one of the biggest attacks against iPhone users, researchers working in Google’s Project Zero team earlier discovered several hacked websites that used security flaws in iPhones to attack users who visited these websites.

The malicious websites may have compromised personal files, messages, and real time location data of iPhone users. After they reported their findings to Apple, the Cupertino-based tech giant patched the vulnerabilities.

Later, they also revealed that the users’ chats in WhatsApp and Telegram were also compromised.

“In the earlier posts, we examined how the attackers gained ‘unsandboxed’ code execution as root on iPhones.”

“The implant has access to all the database files (on the victim’s phone) used by popular end-to-end encryption apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and iMessage,” said Ian Beer from Google’s Project Zero.

The implant was primarily focused on stealing files and uploading live location data.

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FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

“The implant can upload private files used by all apps on the device,” said the researchers.

The researchers were able to collect five separate, complete and unique iPhone exploit chains, covering almost every version from iOS 10 through to the latest version of iOS 12.

“This indicated a group making a sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years,” said Beer.

The websites delivered their malware indiscriminately and were operational for years, said Google.

Also Read: RBI Extends the Deadline to Update KYC for PhonePe, Paytm

“Earlier this year, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) discovered a small collection of hacked websites. The hacked sites were being used in indiscriminate watering hole attacks against their visitors, using iPhone 0-day,” said Beer.

There was no target discrimination as simply visiting the hacked site was enough for the exploit server to attack the iPhone, and if it was successful, install a monitoring implant.

“We estimate that these sites receive thousands of visitors per week,” said the Google blog post. (IANS)

Next Story

Here’s Why Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai Believes That Artificial Intelligence Needs To Be Regulated

Advanced AI which is beyond chat bots will soon be used to manipulate social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

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The Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai stressed that "international alignment will be critical to making global standards work" on AI. Wikimedia Commons

Joining Microsoft President Brad Smith and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday called for new regulations for Artificial Intelligence (AI), saying the only question now is how to approach it.

Although new regulation is needed, “a cautious approach is required that might not see significant controls placed on AI,” Pichai who was last month took over as the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in an editorial piece in The Financial Times.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to. The only question is how to approach it”.

“Companies such as ours cannot just build promising new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used. It is equally incumbent on us to make sure that technology is harnessed for good and available to everyone,” Pichai wrote.

According to CNET, the timing of the editorial coincides with a big push from Google to reveal some of the results of its own work in AI and bring tools it has developed out into the world.

The Alphabet CEO stressed that “international alignment will be critical to making global standards work” on AI.

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Joining Microsoft President Brad Smith and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday called for new regulations for Artificial Intelligence (AI), saying the only question now is how to approach it. Wikimedia Commons

We need to take a “principled approach to applying AI, said the company, while offering Google’s “expertise, experience and tools.”

“We need to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong,” he said.

His comments come as lawmakers and governments globally are considering to limit the use of AI in fields such as face recognition system – an issue close to Microsoft President Brad Smith’s heart who has often criticized the technology, urging governments to enact legislation regarding the technology.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” said Smith.

Advanced AI which is beyond chat bots will soon be used to manipulate social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, Tesla CEO Elon Musk warned recently.

In his famous debate with former Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma, Musk entered into a lassic argument over the capabilities of emerging technologies like AI.

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Although new regulation is needed, “a cautious approach is required that might not see significant controls placed on AI,” Sundar Pichai who was last month took over as the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, in an editorial piece in The Financial Times. Pixabay

Musk said that computers will one day surpass humans in “every single way”. He has predicted that a single company that develops “God-like super intelligence” might achieve world domination.

ALSO READ: Suicide Rates Increasing Among Self-Employed Than Unemployed

If not regulated or controlled soon, AI could become an “immortal dictator” and there will be no escape for humans, the SpaceX CEO had warned. (IANS)