Baidu Blames Qihoo for Spreading iPhone Virus

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There’s a war of reputations brewing between Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. and Baidu Inc. after the former filed a lawsuit against the latter by saying that Baidu’s website carried a post that pointed fingers at Qihoo to be behind a virus that is targeting iPhones. The official statement released by Qihoo said that the post on Baidu’s website has damaged its reputation to a great extent.

The dispute became public after posts shared on a Baidu bulletin board function accused Qihoo of initiating a virus attack on iPhones. Till this point, Baidu is standing firm by its decision not to pull down the posts from its website. As a result, Qihoo filed a lawsuit asking for a compensation of 5 million yuan in Beijing Xicheng District People’s Court on November 17. Meanwhile, Baidu also issued a statement that said that Qihoo was using the lawsuit issue to distract people from the main issue of virus attacks on iPhones. In addition, the company said that the user posts that were shared on their website were actually guiding people to gain understanding of the latest malware attacks.

Background

The virus, known as WireLurker, managed to penetrate and infect thousands of Apple devices earlier in November. The WireLurker was used to collect call logs, phone contacts and other important information stored in the targeted mobile devices. Moreover, the virus also exhibited a far reach as it could infect other devices as well if an infected computer is used to plug into mobile Apple devices.

Researchers from Palo Alto Networks, a US based anti-virus firm, issued a statement on November 5 that the virus spread from a Chinese bulletin board website called Maiyadi.com from where iPhone users download all sorts of applications. According to the statistics provided by the researchers, around 467 apps on the website were infected with the virus and the same apps were downloaded 356, 000 times on the same date that the statement was issued.

The next day (November 6) Qihoo said that it had successfully identified the virus and provided users with an update while making a commitment that it would completely clean infected phones from traces of WireLurker.

Police Involvement

The incident was reported to Beijing police who managed to arrest three suspects, including the head of Maiyadi.com, thought to be involved in the creation of the virus. Police statement suggested that the suspects were rounded up on the pretext that they were preparing to make a profit from the virus at the expense of other peoples’ security. The legal battle is still going on between Qihoo and Baidu with both the companies leveling allegations against each other through their legal team.

List of Allegations and Counter Allegations

The first posts related to the virus attack appeared on Baidu on November 11. The user posts accused Qihoo of owning one-quarter of Maiyadi.com while saying that the virus attacks were directly linked to the above mentioned company. In addition, there were other posts that mentioned that Qihoo was also marketing a hardware product that would prevent the spread of infections through different computers via USB and that the company had released the virus to play on the fears of people so that they would purchase the product to avoid infecting their computer systems.

Some posts also carried conspiracy material that the virus was released in retaliation to Apple’s decision to pull down 20 Qihoo apps from its app store last year after the former suspected that those apps were being used to steal important user data.

On the other hand, the lawyer hired by Qihoo for its defense said that the company had no solid reason to develop and release the virus into the wild. Talking about the issue of Qihoo owning shares in Maiyadi.com, the lawyer said that its client made a 1 billion yuan investment in the troubled company in order to support 100 small companies, while insisting that Qihoo had no real role in running the operations on Maiyadi.

This is not the first instance that both Qihoo and Baidu have locked horns in a legal battle. Two years earlier, Qihoo was ordered by Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court to pay 700, 000 yuan to Baidu because a search option on the anti-virus company’s website exposed private user information stored on Baidu.

 

Image credit: Gil C / Shutterstock.com

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