Chinese authorities have reportedly arrested 22 Apple employees and distributors for allegedly selling iPhone user data on the black market.
While we've become increasingly weary of hacks and data breaches that may compromise the safety and privacy of user data, it's not often that we consider that people in the supply chain would steal data and sell it for some extra cash. Nevertheless, it seems that this is exactly what happened in this case.
As we've become increasingly reliant on our mobile devices for a slew of daily tasks, user data has become a precious commodity that can fetch some pretty cash. We often use our smartphones to log into various accounts, make payments, handle finances, and so on. Devices collect a slew of data and stats about their owners and smartphones are filled to the brim with sensitive data, which should remain secure and private. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
iPhone User Data Sold On The Black Market
As a Chinese outlet reports (translated), police in the Chinese province of Zhejiang have arrested 22 individuals for allegedly selling iPhone user data on the black market. The arrests followed months of investigation.
According to authorities, the individuals raided an internal Apple database and grabbed sensitive information such as users' phone numbers, Apple IDs, and other details, and sold the data on the black market for up to 180 yuan ($26) each. In total, the thieves reportedly scored more than 50 million yuan (roughly $7.3 million) before being arrested.
The suspects were apparently Apple China employees and third-party distributors who had access to iPhone user data, so they decided to steal it and make some money on the side. The individuals were from Apple "direct sales outlets" in the country, or from companies Apple outsources services to, according to the report.
It remains unclear for now just how many people were affected by this breach. It's also uncertain whether this scheme affected only users in China, or made victims on a global scale.
Apple Stays Mum
Apple has yet to issue a statement regarding this matter, but it will be interesting to see how it will handle this situation and what measures it will take to secure its internal database so that such breaches don't occur again in the future. For now, the company has not responded to any requests for comments.
Nevertheless, this worrisome incident is already raising some serious concerns about security and the level of access Apple grants its third-party distributors. The stolen information is currently in the hands of Chinese authorities and it remains unclear what will come of it.
Affected users should be notified about the breach considering that the perpetrators already sold plenty of data on the black market, but there's no word yet on any protection or notification measures.
Since the matter raises some serious issues and concerns, it shouldn't take too long for Apple to take action and issue a statement. We'll keep an eye out for any new developments and keep you up to date as soon as more information becomes available, so stay tuned.