Authorities in China claim they have busted a massive underground operation involving theft of personal data of Apple users across the globe.
Surprisingly Apple employees themselves are said to be involved with the 50 million yuan (USD 7.36 million) scam according to authorities. Of the 22 people detained by Chinese authorities, 20 are Apple employees.
Authorities revealed that the scam involved stealing of users’ private information including their names, phone numbers, Apple IDs, and other data directly from Apple’s internal database and selling it off to cyber criminals across the world. Twenty-two people have been detained on suspicion of infringing individuals’ privacy and illegally obtaining their digital personal information, according to a statement yesterday from local police in southern Zhejiang province.
Following months of investigation, the statement said, police across more than four provinces – Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Fujian – apprehended the suspects over the weekend, seizing their “criminal tools” and dismantling their online network.The suspects, who worked in direct marketing and outsourcing for Apple in China, allegedly charged between 10 yuan (USD 1.50) and 180 yuan (USD 26.50) for pieces of the illegally extracted data.
The sale of personal information is common in China, which implemented on June 1 a controversial new cybersecurity law aimed at protecting the country’s networks and private user information.In December, an investigation by the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper exposed a black market for private data gathered from police and government databases.
Reporters successfully obtained a trove of material on one colleague – including flight history, hotel checkouts and property holdings – in exchange for a payment of 700 yuan.