China’s Burned Out Tech Workers are Fighting Back Against Long Hours

Ms Tech | Getty

The draining 996 work schedule—named for the expectation that employees work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week—has persisted in Chinese companies for years despite ongoing public outcry. Even Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma once called it a “huge blessing.”

In early October this year, it seemed the tide might have been turning. After hopeful signs of increased government scrutiny in August, four aspiring tech workers initiated a social media project designed to expose the problem with the nation’s working culture. A publicly editable database of company practices, it soon went viral, revealing working conditions at many companies in the tech sector and helping bring 996 to the center of the public’s attention. It managed to garner 1 million views within its first week.

But the project—first dubbed Worker Lives Matter and then Working Time—was gone almost as quickly as it appeared. The database and the GitHub repository page have been deleted, and online discussions about the work have been censored by Chinese social networking platforms.

The short life of Working Time highlights how difficult it is to make progress against overtime practices that, while technically illegal in China, are still thriving. But some suspect it won’t be the last anonymous project to take on 996. “I believe there will be more and more attempts and initiatives like this,” says programmer Suji Yan, who has worked on another anti-996 project. With better approaches to avoiding censorship, he says, they could bring even more attention to the problem.

Tracking hours

Working Time started with a spreadsheet shared on Tencent Docs, China’s version of Google Docs. Shortly after it was posted, it was populated with entries attributed to companies such as Alibaba, the Chinese-language internet search provider Baidu, and e-commerce company JD.com.

“9 a.m., 10:30 p.m.–11:00 p.m., six days a week, managers usually go home after midnight,” read one entry linked with tech giant Huawei.

“10 a.m., 9 p.m. (off-work time 9 p.m., but our group stays until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. because of involution,” noted another entry (“involution” is Chinese internet slang for irrational competition).  Within three days, more than 1,000 entries had been added. A few days later, it became the top trending topic on China’s Quora-like online forum Zhihu.

As the spreadsheet grew and got more public attention, one organizer, with the user name 秃头才能变强 (“Only Being Bald Can Make You Strong”), came out on Zhihu to share the story behind the burgeoning project.

“Four of us are fresh college and master’s degree graduates who were born between 1996 and 2001,” the organizer said. Initially, the spreadsheet was just for information sharing, to help job hunters like themselves, they said. But as it got popular, the organizers decided to push from information gathering to activism. “It is not simply about sharing anymore, as we bear some social responsibility,” 秃头才能变强 wrote.

The spreadsheet filled a gap in China, where there is a lack of company rating sites such as Glassdoor and limited ways for people to learn about benefits, office culture, and salary information. Some job seekers depend on word of mouth, while others reach out to workers randomly on the professional networking app Maimai or piece together information from job listings.“I have heard about 996, but I was not aware it is that common. Now I see the tables made by others, I feel quite shocked,” Lane Sun, a university student from Nanjing, said when the project was still public.

Against 996

According to China’s labor laws, a typical work schedule is eight hours a day, with a maximum of 44 hours a week. Extra hours beyond that require overtime pay, and monthly overtime totals are capped at 36 hours.

But for a long time, China’s tech companies and startups have skirted overtime caps and become notorious for endorsing, glamorizing, and in some cases mandating long hours in the name of hard work and competitive advantage.

In a joint survey by China’s online job site Boss Zhipin and the microblogging platform Weibo in 2019, only 10.6% of workers surveyed said they rarely worked overtime, while 24.7% worked overtime every day.

Long work hours can benefit workers, Jack Ma explained in 2019. “Since you are here, instead of making yourself miserable, you should do 996,” Ma said in a speech at an internal Alibaba meeting that was later shared online. “Your 10-year working experience will be the same as others’ 20 years.”

But the tech community had already started to fight back. Earlier that year, a user created the domain 996.icu. A repository of the same name was launched on GitHub a few days later. The name means that “by following the 996 work schedule, you are risking yourself getting into the ICU (intensive care unit),” explains the GitHub page, which includes regulations on working hours under China’s labor law and a list of more than 200 companies that practice 996.

Within three days, the repository got over 100,000 stars, or bookmarks, becoming the top trending project on GitHub at that time. It was blocked not long after by Chinese browsers including QQ and 360, ultimately disappearing entirely from the Chinese internet (it is still available through VPNs).

The 996.icu project was quickly followed by the Anti-996 License. Devised by Yan and Katt Gu, who has a legal background, the software license allows developers to restrict the use of their code to those entities that comply with labor laws. In total, the Anti-996 License has been adopted by more than 2,000 projects, Yan says.

State involvement

Today, 996 is facing increasing public scrutiny from both Chinese authorities and the general public. After a former employee at the agriculture-focused tech firm Pinduoduo died in December 2020, allegedly because of overwork, China’s state-run press agency Xinhua called out overtime culture and advocated for shorter hours.

And on August 26, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Supreme People’s Court jointly published guidelines and examples of court cases on overtime, sending reminders to companies and individuals to be aware of labor laws. But even though authorities and state media seem to be taking a tougher stand, it is unclear when or if the rules that make 996 illegal will be fully enforced.

Some companies are making changes. Anthony Cai, a current employee of Baidu, says working six days a week is quite rare in big companies nowadays. This year, several tech companies including and ByteDance, the developer of TikTok, canceled “big/small weeks,” an emerging term in China that refers to working a six-day schedule every other week. “Working on Saturday is not that popular anymore,” Cai says. “However, staying late at the office is still very common, which is not usually counted as overtime hours.”

In the future, companies may have to scale further back on overtime to attract young applicants. Faper Fu, a university student in Nanjing, says he has little interest in accepting 996 when he enters the job market. “If I am getting paid a lot, I may consider it,” he says. “But it is not my long-term plan 100%. Having work and life balance is very important to me.”

Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology and health at Alliance Manchester Business School in the UK, thinks Chinese companies will pull away from overtime culture when they see evidence of the impact that long hours have on the health and productivity of workers. “There is no evidence that if people consistently work long hours, their productivity level will increase—it’s the opposite,” he says.

In the meantime, Cooper says, younger generations “won’t stop fighting for a good quality of working life.”

“996 will only make human machines,” wrote  秃头才能变强. “And the only result of a dry human battery is being thrown into the trash can after the battery goes dry.”

Source: China’s burned-out tech workers are fighting back against long hours | MIT Technology Review

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How China Disciplines Its Tech Barons

Chinese internet giants have become compliant parts of the regime they promised to disrupt. For Tencent’s Pony Ma and other tycoons the future is fraught. In April 2022, a resurgence of Covid spread seemingly unchecked through the financial centre of Shanghai. The government imposed a strict lockdown, confining millions to their homes, triggering mass-testing on a scale unseen since the initial outbreak and outraging affluent urban residents who were increasingly sceptical about China’s Covid-zero policy.

In an attempt to control public opinion, the government told social media sites including WeChat – the super-app used by two-thirds of China’s population – to wipe and scrape posts deemed negative or critical of the policy. But the censorship backfired. There was an unprecedented public outcry, which became a virtual protest. A video documenting the dire fallout of lockdown began circulating online.

The six-minute clip known as Voices of April – a montage of audio recordings encompassing the cries of babies separated from parents during quarantine, residents demanding food and the pleas of a son seeking medical help for his critically ill father – resonated with the tens of millions in Shanghai and more across the country. The video was quickly marked as banned content and taken down from social media platforms in China. On the Twitter-equivalent Weibo, even the word “April” was temporarily restricted from search results.

Many deemed the video a neutral yet essential documentation of the human toll of Shanghai’s lockdown. A backlash ensued, as defiant users repeatedly shared the video in ways that could dodge web censors. Some posted the video upside down, others superimposed words or images or embedded other footage. WeChat censors tried to wipe posts sharing the video, but it was like a multi-headed hydra: no sooner did one get blocked, than another would pop up.

This seminal moment embodied the dynamics between the Chinese government and the country’s giant tech companies. On the frontline was Tencent, the entertainment and tech conglomerate that owns WeChat. For the better part of three decades, Beijing tolerated and even celebrated entrepreneurship. As the country leapfrogged into the digital age, China produced one company worth $1bn every 3.8 days in 2018, just a year after Tencent overtook Facebook to become the fifth largest company in the world.

The amount of money Chinese-focused venture and private equity funds raised grew nearly fourfold to $120bn. That bounty helped China transform from industrial backwater into one of the most dynamic and coveted markets on the planet. In addition to generating revenue, companies such as Tencent complied with government orders when it came to monitoring its citizens. For an authoritarian regime ruling over a population scattered across an area almost as large as the US, an app that dominates every facet of life proves enormously useful.

Some say WeChat should be called WeCheck, such is its capacity for mass surveillance. The early days of Chinese tech also saw the construction of the Great Firewall of China. One in five people on the planet using the internet access it through a filter that obscures Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Instagram, the New York Times and YouTube. In a sense, it’s a parallel universe, where nearly a billion people live and thrive – much to westerners’ surprise – on China’s equivalent of such mainstays. There’s Meituan for Deliveroo, Didi Chuxing for Uber, WeChat for WhatsApp and Facebook.

The services are often even better in terms of convenience and design. The Swiss army knife of a super-app, WeChat is the most deft at merging the functions of various western platforms, allowing people to chat, shop or order a takeaway. Domestically WeChat is known as Weixin, and the company has made a point of emphasising that it operates as two apps within and outside the mainland. China’s deficit of privacy controls means its companies and government have an edge when it comes to collecting the data that empowers the algorithms that screen, monitor, name-shame and, sometimes, imprison its citizens.

The dynamics between Chinese tech companies and the authorities are like no other. Before the pandemic I sat down once with an official and talked about the vicissitudes that startups and entrepreneurs endure. “No matter what kind of hotshot you are, we will always have a way of showing you who’s boss,” the person said, making an offhand remark about Tencent’s owner, Pony Ma. “Don’t think because you control a billion users and moved to Singapore or some overseas country that we can’t do anything about you.”

The official told me that when regulators felt Tencent needed to be taught a lesson, they would step up censorship efforts, block or shut down web services till the company got the message. The tactics were not always conspicuous. Given WeChat’s overseas ambitions at the time, they would sometimes disrupt its service for global users, delaying messages or transactions for just half a minute. “That small hold-up is more than enough to drive users crazy and make people ditch the app altogether,” the person said. “That’s how you show them some colour.”

The Wall no longer resides just within China. When Chinese people travel outside the country, the Wall follows them via their telecom providers. A person using a China Mobile sim card is barred from roaming on Google. Authoritarian nations in Africa, south-east Asia and Russia see the appeal of the model. They too want to create their own intranet. As the internet splits in two, aligning itself between the American and Chinese models, Tencent’s story offers a window into an alternative vision of what the global online sphere could become.

Tencent’s products are so convenient and intuitive; yet in the back of everyone’s minds is the knowledge that their every move, location and utterance is documented and potentially scrutinised. Nowhere is this contradiction more apparent than at Tencent’s headquarters, in the heart of southern Shenzhen’s hi-tech district.

Tencent’s office building took five years and more than half a billion dollars to construct. Ma handpicked NBBJ, the architect responsible for Amazon, Google and Samsung’s headquarters. But the billionaire wanted it to be more than a statement of financial largesse. With its twin gleaming towers of glass and steel, he turned the building into one of the world’s biggest laboratories for new internet services and connected devices. It features holographic tour guides, conference rooms that adjust temperatures based on attendance, and alerts for the best parking spots before commuters arrive.

What struck me was that within the halls of a building that serves as a towering paean to futurism and commerce, the Communist party’s influence is omnipresent. In its open-plan reading room, alongside books about the cosmos and the ancient Greek and Roman empires, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s book – tabulating his speeches and thoughts about how to govern – features on the most prominent shelves. QR codes in the gym bring up links to stories documenting battle victories during the Long March.

Even these demonstrations of loyalty are not enough. Common sense would suggest that the Communist party would be supportive of companies such as Tencent and encourage their expansion overseas. But Xi has chosen to make sure the aspirations of a rising class of immensely wealthy entrepreneurs are tamed before they turn political. It was only a matter of time before he went after these national champions.

A crackdown that started with the financial technology industry in 2020, has quickly expanded to engulf every sector from online education to gaming, and ride-hailing to food delivery. With footprints in all of these sectors via its investments in some 800 companies, Tencent has felt the pinch.

Despite Pony Ma’s reputation for being the most low-key and cautious of Chinese tech moguls, Tencent has not been spared. China halted its app rollouts for about a month in late 2021, has curtailed gaming time for those under 18, ordered an overhaul of its financial units, fined it for investment deal disclosure violations and suspended new game approvals this year.

The change in approach to the tech sector is underpinned by shifts in Xi’s priorities. It mirrors crackdowns in other sectors, including property. As China’s economy slows and Xi tries to increase the nation’s birthrate, the policies underscore the Communist party’s growing resolve to respond to mounting public dissatisfaction with hoarded wealth and narrowing avenues for advancement.

A phrase that has emerged in tandem with the crackdowns is “common prosperity”, which refers to China’s goal of becoming a modernised socialist society. The implications for China’s tech industry are far-reaching, and could shape the playbook for the next few decades.

There’s a Chinese saying “Li yu tiao long men” – “a carp leaping over the dragon’s gate”. Legend has it that if the carp manages to swim upstream and vault an arch atop a waterfall on the Yellow river, it transforms into an Oriental dragon, a snake-like creature symbolising imperial power. The story of China’s internet tycoons, like Pony Ma, for the past two decades is that of a generation of carp becoming dragons. The twist, though, is that these idealistic geeks, who ventured out to change the world, are now shackled and have become part of a system they wanted to change. Once self-made dragons have achieved the level of success they have in China, the more important question seems to be: when and how do they bow out unscathed?

Source: ‘We show hotshots who’s boss’: how China disciplines its tech barons | Internet | The Guardian

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E-commerce Profits May Become Harder To Make

THE E-COMMERCE company that retailers talk about most these days is neither Amazon, the American juggernaut, nor Alibaba, China’s biggest. It is Pinduoduo (PDD), a Chinese firm that started in 2015 as an online food supplier, but whose success has driven its market value above $200bn. Last year it was China’s fastest-growing internet stock, rising by 330%.

PDD attracts attention for two reasons. One is its business model. David Liu, vice-president of strategy, explains that it has ridden the rise of smartphone penetration in China to create an e-commerce experience in which people club together to buy products from robot vacuum-cleaners to bananas.

During the pandemic this has expanded into a fast-growing business across thousands of towns and villages, in which PDD’s users gather to bid for shipments of local farm produce at bargain prices. Some term this “community group-buy”. Mr Liu calls it “interactive commerce”. It is one of the hottest parts of the Chinese internet.

The second is the way PDD has shattered the myth of an impregnable fortress surrounding the titans of online shopping. Until a few years ago, China’s e-commerce market seemed a two-way contest between Alibaba and JD.com, a rival platform.

No longer. Elinor Leung of CLSA, a brokerage, expects PDD’s share of online retail in China to overtake that of JD in 2021. She expects the number of users to surpass Alibaba. And although PDD shells out huge subsidies to entice customers from poorer parts of China to its app, she thinks it may turn profitable this year.

Remarkably, it has done this less by displacing its bigger rivals than by tapping parts of the market they have been unable to reach. Although online sales of groceries have rocketed during the pandemic, less than a tenth of the 8.1trn yuan ($1.25trn) farm-produce market is bought and sold digitally.

“We are continuing to grow the pie,” says Mr Liu. That lesson applies elsewhere too. However sewn up a market looks, there is opportunity for upstarts because e-commerce is at an early stage of development.

The issue of competition in China has convulsed share prices because of the actions of antitrust authorities. In November 2020 the State Administration for Market Regulation published draft guidelines for platform companies aimed at maintaining orderly competition. In December enforcement of the 2008 antitrust law was strengthened, leading to new investigations and fines.

These have included scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions, community group-buy schemes, price-discounting and discrimination against competitors. Ms Leung wrote in January that the chance of a forced break-up of Chinese internet platforms is remote, because of its impact on industry, the economy and consumers. But she expects more regulation, especially over customer data.

Robin Zhu of Bernstein says the crackdown means tech platforms may have to restrain aggressive sales practices such as selling goods at huge discounts. That may reduce growth, but jobs and innovation plus their support for consumer spending argue in their favour. Alibaba seems the biggest target, but PDD has also drawn fire.

Alibaba is flying “closest to the sun”, Mr Zhu suggests, partly because of heat on its sister company, Ant Group. But he says up to a fifth of China’s retail sales flow through its doors. Chinese regulators stress their support for the platform economy, he notes, so a crackdown is unlikely to be devastating.

The rampant competition in China’s retail market suggests no platform, however large, can expect fully to dominate it. Alongside PDD, Alibaba, JD and Meituan, a food-delivery firm, all target China’s lower-tier cities with community group-buy and other schemes. Alibaba’s Taobao Live platform has led the growth of live-streaming and video, in which influencers sell branded goods at huge discounts.

But the explosive live-streaming market has attracted vigorous competitors, such as Douyin, sister to TikTok, a global social-media app. WeChat, part of a super-app owned by Alibaba’s rival Tencent, allows brands to sell on its site, and gives customers instant access to digital payments.

Everyone is jostling for a share of online advertising. This is especially true in live-streaming, where it is easy to measure the bang for an advertiser’s buck through real-time data, says Michael Jais of Launchmetrics, a fashion-and-beauty analytics company.

In Europe and America, by contrast, the view is that the game has been won by Amazon. The gap between Amazon’s e-commerce market share in America and that of Walmart, the next in line, is far bigger than Alibaba’s lead over the number two in China.

Though Bernstein’s Mark Shmulik reckons Amazon earns little profit on its core retail business, its fast-growing cloud and online-advertising arms generate huge margins that it can plough back into retail expansion.

It had $42bn of cash on its balance-sheet at the end of 2020. Marc-André Kamel of Bain, a consultancy, says Amazon may spend $100bn more on information technology over the next five years than each of the world’s top ten traditional retailers. It will also continue to invest heavily in logistics, putting more pressure on the likes of UPS and FedEx.

Like Alibaba in China, Amazon has drawn regulatory heat. In October 2020 a congressional committee in America said it was looking at overhauling antitrust laws to counter the power of the big tech platforms. It drew attention to the dominance that Amazon has over third-party sellers on its marketplace, and its practice of selling its own goods in competition with them.

In November the European Commission accused Amazon of violating competition laws by using non-public data from third-party sellers to benefit its own retail business.

Amazon says none of this is true. Although it stands tall online in America, by total sales Walmart is larger. Amazon dominates categories like books, but in groceries it is one of many. Trustbusters may have their eye on how it sells products on its website to compete with those sold by third parties, but this is little different from big retailers selling own-label products.

Amazon also has political capital. Brian Nowak of Morgan Stanley says the jobs it provides, its support for small and medium-sized firms, and its technological prowess may all work in its favour.

The recent decision by Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, to hand the chief executive job to Andy Jassy will not end the regulatory fire. But if the pressure rises, it could spin out Amazon Web Services, the world’s biggest cloud-computing company. As in China, as long as the pie is growing, new challengers may emerge.

Some will come from big tech. Many online retailers pay Facebook and Google for their products to be found via search. Online advertising remains the strongest part of their businesses, but Facebook and Google are adding sales channels. Facebook has 160m small firms on its site. In 2020 it let them set up a single online store on its app and on Instagram, its sister platform. Last year Google scrapped commissions for retailers selling directly from its site.

Another source of competition will come from changes in online shopping. Smartphones may overtake personal computers in America and Europe for e-commerce. That will boost the popularity of “social commerce”, or commerce via social media and video. TikTok, a medium for promoting brand awareness, may let its most popular celebrities market products on its site, according to the Financial Times.

The battle will extend to logistics and payment services. In America Amazon delivers more of its own parcels than the US Postal Service. But rivals like Walmart are developing subscription services like Amazon Prime that offer free delivery and other perks.

Tax is another threat. In both East and West, tax authorities have their eye on the digital giants. In 2020 Amazon saw a big increase in its tax liability, yet the administration of Joe Biden is considering imposing higher taxes on America’s most profitable companies.

European governments are levying digital-services taxes on tech firms in an effort to force them to pay more where their consumers are located. Some have drawn attention to the low business rates that e-commerce platforms pay on out-of-town warehouses, compared with those of retailers on the high street. Even China plans to raise taxes on its biggest tech firms.

Ultimately, higher taxes, greater regulatory scrutiny and rising competition may make profits in e-commerce harder to come by. But even if they end up regulated like utilities, few will shed a tear. The e-commerce giants have had a fabulous run so far.

Source: E-commerce profits may become harder to make | The Economist

.

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U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Lose $80 Billion In Value As Didi Delisting Crashes Prices

Jack Ma, CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, speaks in Paris. After a year of massive losses ... [+] AFP via Getty Images

Shares of Chinese tech giants trading in the United States posted stunning losses Friday amid intensifying concerns over U.S. regulatory efforts to ramp up financial disclosures for foreign entities after ride-hailer Didi Global’s catastrophic trading debut this year, yielding one-day losses of more than $80 billion for the ten largest U.S.-listed Chinese stocks.

Heading up the Friday plunge, Didi shares had plummeted 18% by 12:30 p.m. EST, wiping out $7 billion in market value after the embattled Beijing-based firm announced it would begin removing its shares from the New York Stock Exchange and instead list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Though widely expected, the delisting “represents the beginning of the unwinding of a large part of U.S.-China business relations,” David Trainer, the CEO of investment research firm New Constructs, said in emailed comments, calling China’s relaxed financial disclosure requirements irreconcilable with U.S. laws.

Fueling concerns over additional delistings, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday proceeded with plans that could eventually force many Chinese stocks off U.S. exchanges by subjecting foreign entities to heightened disclosure requirements, including U.S. government financial audits.

Shares of e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba, the largest Chinese company listed in the U.S., were among the hardest hit, down 8% on the New York Stock Exchange to a nearly five-year low of $112, deflating its market capitalization to $305 billion.

Fellow online retailers JD.com and Pinduoduo, the second- and fourth-largest firms, posted similarly staggering losses, falling 9% apiece to shed about $12 billion and $6 billion in market value, respectively.

The selloff hit a wide array of sectors: Online gaming company NetEase, electric carmaker NIO and internet firm Baidu plunged 6%, 15% and 8%, respectively.

All told, the ten largest Chinese companies trading in the United States have lost about $83 billion in market value on Friday—nearly 10% of their $850 billion in combined worth.

Chinese stocks trading in the United States have lost massive amounts of value since Beijing officials issued a series of sweeping private sector regulations this summer—in one instance banning the for-profit education business virtually overnight. “Yes, there’s a huge market and lots of growth potential, but obviously there are regulatory risks that seem to be growing larger with every passing month,” Tom Essaye, author of the Sevens Report, wrote in a recent note.

Epitomizing the effect on stocks, Didi shares have tanked 53% since they started trading in June, and Alibaba, once worth more than $858 billion, has crashed about 50% this year.

The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China index, which tracks Chinese businesses trading in the United States, is down 8% Friday and 42% this year. The index is at its lowest point since March 2020.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism

Source: U.S.-Listed Chinese Stocks Lose $80 Billion In Value As Didi Delisting Crashes Prices

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More Contents:

Chinese Stocks in US Extend Rally Nearly Erasing Record Selloff BNN Bloomberg

Chinese Stocks Plummet after Xi’s Reelection Hudson Institute

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iPhone 13 Pro Hacked, Tianfu Cup, China Hackers, iOS 15 jailbreak

Ever since the Chinese government invoked regulations to prevent security researchers from taking part in international hacking competitions such as Pwn2Own, the annual Tianfu Cup, held in Chengdu, has been the place for the best hackers in China to demonstrate their collective prowess.

This past weekend saw the latest competition take place and the newest iPhone, the iPhone 13 Pro running the latest and fully patched version of iOS 15.0.2 to be precise, was hacked in record time. Twice.

The Kunlun Lab team, whose CEO is a former CTO of Qihoo 360, was able to hack the iPhone 13 Pro live on stage using a remote code execution exploit of the mobile Safari web browser. And do so in just 15 seconds flat.

Of course, months of preparation were likely involved in getting to this point, but the result was devastating and devastatingly fast. However, full details of the vulnerability or vulnerabilities exploited have yet to be revealed.

Kunlun Lab wasn’t the only team to hack the iPhone 13 Pro, though. Team Pangu, which has a history of Apple device jailbreaking, cemented its reputation in this regard by claiming the top $300,000 cash reward for remotely jailbreaking a fully patched iPhone 13 Pro running iOS 15.

While, again, the full detail of how this was achieved has not been made public, reports suggest it involved a one-click link triggering a remote code exploit that bypassed Safari security mechanisms.

The good news is that hacking is not a crime, as I have repeated time and time again.

Indeed, these hacking teams will turn the details of their exploits over to Apple so that it can release patches for these vulnerabilities. I would expect to see these in either iOS 15.1 or a forthcoming iOS 15.0 security update.

The not so good news is that there have been reports in the past of Chinese state actors using some of these exploits for espionage or surveillance purposes before patches can be released.

It should also be said that Apple products weren’t the only target at the Tianfu Cup 2021 event. Security researchers also successfully launched exploits against Windows 10, Microsoft Exchange and Google Chrome, among others. I’ll bring you more news of those as detail emerges.

I have reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article in due course.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Davey is a three-decade veteran technology journalist and has been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A co-founder of the Forbes Straight Talking Cyber video project, which has been named ‘Most Educational Content’ at the 2021 European Cybersecurity Blogger Awards, Davey also won the 2020 Security Serious ‘Cyber Writer of the Year’ title. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

Source: iPhone 13 Pro Hacked, Tianfu Cup, China Hackers, iOS 15 jailbreak..

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