Sophisticated iOS Malware Targets Hong Kong Protesters
Protesters charge their mobile phones outside of an art centre near the government headquarters building in Hong KongCarlos Barria/Reuters

A sophisticated piece of iOS malware named Xsser, affecting the operating systems of iPhones and iPads, is being used to target Hong Kong protesters.

Cyber-security firm Lacoon Mobile Security has said the iOS virus, capable of stealing all the personal details from the Apple devices including contacts, passwords, and photographs, was inadvertently identified during an investigation on Android equipment for spywares.

The firm squarely pointed fingers at the Chinese administration, saying such a cross-platform attack involving both iOS and Android indicates that it is launched by a "very large organisation or nation state".

"The Xsser mRAT is itself significant because it's the first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS Trojan found to date. Although it shows initial signs of being a targeted attack on Chinese protesters, the full extent of how Xsser mRAT is being used is anyone's guess," read the company's blog-post.

In addition to that, the spyware, which masquerades itself as an app in the mobile or the iPad, was thought to have been released by Chinese-speaking attackers.

Earlier, a fake Android app, containing malware was circulated via Whatsapp among the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

"This is one the most interesting developments we have seen. It's the first real indication that really sophisticated guys are shifting from infecting PCs or laptops to going after iOS devices," chief executive of the company Michael Shaulov told Reuters.

Neither the victims nor the extent of the malware attack is clear so far.

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters are currently demonstrating against the Beijing-backed Hong Kong administration demanding radical political reforms in the semi-autonomous city state.