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What you need to know

  • iPhones weren't the only target.
  • Android and Windows were also affected.
  • The attackers wanted to infect devices belonging to the Uighur ethnic group in China.

Last week Google's Project Zero team told us all that a number of unnamed websites had been hacking iPhones for years, infecting them with malware. But both Android and Windows devices were also targeted according to a new report from Forbes.

Forbes cites "multiple sources with knowledge of the situation" when it says that the real target of the attack was the Uighur ethnic group in China, rather than any particular subset of devices. The community has often found itself targeted by the Chinese government, leading some to suggest that is once again the case here.

This of course means that contrary to Google's initial blog post this wasn't an attempt to compromise iPhones specifically. Somewhat oddly, Google didn't disclose the websites that were the source of the attack although it did say that Apple patched the exploit they were using back in February.

Neither Android nor Windows were mentioned in the announcement post and it isn't clear whether Microsoft was informed or not. We also don't yet know whether Google was even aware that its own mobile operating system, let alone Windows, were being attacked by the same websites.

Cynics will say that Google pointed the finger squarely at Apple and its iPhone in an attempt to win points in the smartphone security battle. Android has had its fair share of security failings in recent years and the opportunity to bloody the nose of a competitor may have simply been too good to refuse.

Google hadn't responded to Forbes' request for comment at the time of writing.