A Chinese spy carrying out industrial espionage against GE Aviation and Honeywell’s aerospace division was caught with the help of access to an iCloud backup of his iPhone, media reports say.

The data obtained included a never-before-seen copy of a security form used by the Chinese security service when recruiting spies, citing Bloomberg, 9To5Mac reported.

Xu Yanjun, an officer in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) was arrested and brought to trial in the US after investigators lured him out of the country to a meeting in Belgium, from where he was extradited to the US.

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As per the report, the executive summary is that China targeted academics and engineers working on aerospace projects.

The arrest of Yanjun proved a much bigger deal than the FBI had expected, the report said.

The data was accessible because, although iCloud backups are encrypted, they don’t use end-to-end encryption. This means that Apple holds the key, and can hand over data to law enforcement on receipt of a court order.

The documents obtained included one the FBI had never seen before.

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