Chinese government launches man-in-middle attack against iCloud

iCloud
A screen capture shows the warning of a fake iCloud.com certificate—signed by an official Chinese certificate authority.

GreatFire.org, a group that monitors censorship by the Chinese government’s national firewall system (often referred to as the “Great Firewall”), reports that China is using the system as part of a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack on users of Apple’s iCloud service within the country. The attacks come as Apple begins the official rollout of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on the Chinese mainland. reports ARS Technica

The attack, which uses a fake certificate and Domain Name Service address for the iCloud service, is affecting users nationwide in China. The GreatFire.org team speculates that the attack is an effort to help the government circumvent the improved security features of the new phones by compromising their iCloud credentials and allowing the government to gain access to cloud-stored content such as phone backups.

Chinese iCloud users attempting to log in with Firefox and Chrome browsers would have been alerted to the fraudulent certificate. However, those using Mac OS X’s built-in iCloud login or another browser may not have been aware of the rerouting, and their iCloud credentials would have been immediately compromised. Using two-step verification would prevent the hijacking of compromised accounts.

This is hardly the first time that the Chinese government has used its control of the nation’s Internet infrastructure to attack the security of cloud and Web services. In August and early September, there was an apparent MITM attack on the Chinese messaging platform Weibo and on Google Plus. Earlier this month, there was a similar attack on Yahoo.com, apparently targeted at monitoring what citizens read online and allowing for content filtering of any news about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. There is also an ongoing MITM attack against Microsoft’s Outlook.com Web mail platform.

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