Vietnamese Government Agents Attempted to Infect U.S. Congressmen’s iPhones
We all need to be on the lookout for hacking, but some of us need to be more careful than others. The higher profile you are, the more likely you are to be targeted in one of these attacks. That’s what seems to have happen with members of Congress, American policy experts and U.S. journalists, according to The Washington Post.
October 10, 2023
We all need to be on the lookout for hacking, but some of us need to be more careful than others. The higher profile you are, the more likely you are to be targeted in one of these attacks.
That’s what seems to have happen with members of Congress, American policy experts and U.S. journalists, according to The Washington Post. Vietnamese government agents attempted to infect these U.S. officials’ iPhones with spyware. Among those targeted were Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul and Sen. Chris Murphy, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and chair of its subcommittee on the Middle East. Asia experts at Washington think tanks and journalists from CNN were also targeted, including chief national security analyst Jim Sciutto.
The timing occurred as American and Vietnamese diplomats were in negotiations for a cooperation agreement between the two nations that would push back against the Chinese government’s influence in this part of the world.
Reportedly, the Vietnamese government agents used links on X, the social media site formally known as Twitter, in an attempt to steer the American officials towards sites that would download Predator hacking software on their smartphones. This spyware allows the perpetrators to activate an infected smartphone’s cameras and microphones, as well as access any and all files and messages, even those with end-to-end encryption.
The targeted officials claim they never came across the malicious X links in the first place. However, it’s situations like this where Lockdown Mode on iPhone and Android comes in handy. On iPhone, Lockdown Mode shuts down many parts of the OS in an attempt to fight against spyware and hacking. For example, most message attachments are blocked, and web browsing features are restricted, so some sites might load slow or not at all. On Android, biometric authentication is disabled, so you need to enter your PIN or passcode in order to unlock the phone.