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(CNN Business) —  

Google has uncovered evidence of a sustained effort to hack large numbers of iPhones over a period of at least two years, its researchers said.

Earlier this year, Google cybersecurity experts “discovered a small collection of hacked websites” that exploited vulnerabilities in Apple (AAPL)’s smartphone software, Ian Beer, a researcher with Google’s Project Zero, said in a blog post published Thursday. He did not name the websites.

“Simply visiting the hacked site was enough for the exploit server to attack your device, and if it was successful, install a monitoring implant,” Beer added. “We estimate that these sites receive thousands of visitors per week.”

The implant was capable of giving hackers access to iPhone users’ contacts, photos and location, as well as data from apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Gmail and Google Hangouts, according to the Project Zero researchers.