Google's Project Zero security researchers recently revealed that they found several malicious sites that planted malware onto people's iPhones for years.
Researchers claim that if iPhone users visited one of the hacked websites, their messages, photos, and location data could have been compromised by hackers. Ian Beer claims, "There was no target discrimination; simply visiting the hacked site was enough for the exploit server to attack your device, and if it was successful, install a monitoring implant". It's believed that these sites received thousands of visitors per week.
iPhones have generally been considered highly secure devices, but this hack didn't work off of one single vulnerability. Researchers found it used 14 zero-day vulnerabilities across 5 different exploit chains and that the vulnerabilities ran from iOS 10 to iOS 12, the current version, leaving many to worry iPhone users have been targeted for over 2 years.
This attack gave hackers full control of the users iPhone, allowing them to obtain location data on the victim in real-time, steal victims photos and messages, and install malicious apps on the device. The attackers could also access the device's keychain, which stores passwords and database files. The siphoned data was sent without encryption, which means anyone connected to the same WiFi network could also see the stolen data.
Rebooting iPhones wiped the malware from the device, but if one of the hacked sites was visited again, the malware would return. Regardless, with access to passwords, messages, and photos, hackers could still wreak havoc.
The worst part is there's no way to tell if you've been affected by the vulnerability since iOS does not allow malware scans, possibly contributing to the hack going unnoticed for so long.
The vulnerability was disclosed to Apple in February and a patch was released by the company less than a week later, with the same update that fixed the FaceTime eavesdropping bug.