Security Alert! RT News, Viber, Tik Tok Steal Crucial Information From Your iPhone

  • Currently, there are more than 100 million iPhone users in the US.
  • Apple sold over 1.5 billion iPhones.
  • These applications either during launch or after certain user actions, such as login requests, gather the contents of the clipboard from the IOS system.

Information has been released about suspicious activity by RT, Viber and Tik Tok. These applications were tracked by researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Musk. In order to do their research, these two researchers used the IOS developer’s standard tools to track the behavior of the most used messengers and clients of news services and social networks for iPhone and iPad.

iPhone users market share of smartphone users in the United States 2014-2021

Currently, there are more than 100 million iPhone users in the US. Also, 45% of all smart phone users are in the United States. Hence, over 200 million people in the US have a smartphone. Overall, Apple sold over 1.5 billion iPhones. It is the most utilized iPhone in the world. Additionally, the iOS operating system holds 50% of the US market share in the mobile operating space in the US.

Social Networking applications stealing your data: 

  • TikTok —  TikTok is available in over 150 countries, has over 1 billion users, and has been downloaded over 123 million times in the United States alone as of March 2020.
  • ToTalk — There are 134 million users and 68 million in United States.
  • Tok
  • Truecaller —There are 200 million users and 25 million in United States
  • Viber — There are 800 million users and 30 million in US.
  • Weibo — It has 500 million users

Interestingly, Russia’s new RT is also in the same category. RT is a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government. It operates pay television channels used for propaganda purposes outside of Russia, as well as providing online content in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and Russian.

All these applications, either during launch or after certain user actions such as login requests, gather the contents of the clipboard from the IOS system. These programs also specifically filter the context to only analyze text. iOS can have a single buffer feature enabled for all devices, iPhone apps. That means these applications can get access a user’s stored information on their Mac.

In general a clipboard stores all types of content that the user utilizes from a myriad of applications. It could also contain passwords and credit card numbers. These applications also collect information after sorting and sending them to a remote server. It is unknown what that data is used for and for what purposes. Perhaps, in the case of the Russian government, pertaining to RT, it could store the readers information, easily putting together their location, phone numbers, passwords. It is plausible it can be even used for Russian intelligence to target such individuals to provide information to the Kremlin. Russians living abroad and former nationals can be targeted and tracked.

iOS is no longer the most secure system. It is also prudent to be very cautious about which sites and apps one is accessing. Even though some of the apps are in the apple App Store, it does not automatically mean that they are safe to use. In the age of technology, privacy is becoming more scarce and there is a need to understand and safeguard your personal information.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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