The Chinese government is targeting Apple iCloud customers with sophisticated man-in-the-middle cyber attacks following the local launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, according to GreatFire.org.
GreatFire.org warned in a public post that the attacks are designed to collect vast amounts of information from iCloud users.
"This is clearly a malicious attack on Apple in an effort to gain access to usernames and passwords and consequently all data stored on iCloud such as iMessages, photos, contacts, etc," read the post.
"This attack is nationwide and coincides with the launch today in China of the newest iPhone."
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launched in China on 17 October. Greatfire.org said the reason for the attack remains unknown, although it is likely to be part of a blanket online surveillance campaign.
The Chinese government has been accused of attempting to hack numerous technology firms, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Google famously withdrew from China in 2010 after allegedly being ordered to censor search results.
It is currently unclear whether Apple is aware of Greatfire.org's report and at the time of publishing the firm had not responded to V3's request for comment.
This could be due to Apple's ongoing policy of not discussing security issues until they have been resolved.
Greatfire.org said it is currently unclear how successful the attacks have been, but noted that existing iPhone encryption technologies would at the very least hamper the Chinese government's surveillance.
"Ironically, Apple increased the encryption aspects on the phone allegedly to prevent snooping from the NSA. However, this increased encryption would also prevent the Chinese authorities from snooping on Apple user data," read the post.
"It is unclear if Apple made changes to the iPhones they are selling in mainland China. However, this attack may indicate that there is at least some conflict between the Chinese authorities and Apple over some of the features on the new phone."
In the mean time, Greatfire.org called for Chinese iPhone users to take a variety of protective measures, including surfing the internet using a virtual private network and enabling two-factor authentication on their iCloud account.
Greatfire.org is one of many organisations to accuse the Chinese government of hacking Western businesses. The FBI sent a warning on 16 October to local firms about the threat of security attacks coming from China.
For more information on the cloud, visit the Intel IT Center.
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