Tim Cook flies to China in response to iCloud phishing allegations

Tim Cook (One More Thing 001)

Apple’s boss Tim Cook went to China to meet with a top Chinese government official in Beijing amid allegations of government-backed phishing attempts on users’ iCloud accounts, according to a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, relayed by Reuters Wednesday.

The meeting coincides with reports by GreatFire.org, a Chinese web monitoring group, alleging that the Chinese government sponsored man-in-the-middle attacks that redirected local users to a fake iCloud.com login page in an effort to harvest Apple ID user names and passwords.

Cook and Vice Premier Ma Kai reportedly exchanged views on “protection of users’ information” as well as ”strengthening cooperation and in information and communication fields,” Xinhua reported.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told the media yesterday that the government was “resolutely opposed” to hacking. It’s worth remembering that the government operates a nationwide firewall allowing it to arbitrarily block traffic to and from certain websites, thereby limiting what the Chinese users can do online.

Greatfire is said to have told Reuters that Apple appeared to have rerouted user data on Tuesday in order to circumvent the hack.

Responding to the attacks, Apple issued a support document yesterday outlining browser security. Users in China predominantly use the popular Chinese browser Qihoo, which lacks anti-phishing measures and does not warn users that they’re visiting a spoofed page.

The firm underscored that the attempted attacks did not affect iCloud sign-in on mobile and Macs that are running the most up to date version of OS X.

“We’re aware of intermittent organized network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously,” reads the support document.