Apple Blocks WireLurker Malware

by Istvan Fekete on November 7, 2014

Hackers have apparently found a new way to infect iOS devices, according to researchers at Palo Alto Networks, a Silicon Valley–based security company. They have uncovered a malware campaign called WireLurker targeting iOS and Mac OS X users, and say it is “the biggest in scale” they have ever seen.

Just in case you have started wondering if your devices are infected or not, the good news is that the malicious software is aimed at users in China (at least for now) and can be avoided. What’s noteworthy, though, is that hackers have found this new way of attacking iOS devices, which currently stand out as one of the most secure mobile devices, right after the struggling BlackBerry.

According to Palo Alto Networks’ report, WireLurker had infected more than 400 applications designed for Mac OS X through the Maiyadi App Store, a third-party Mac app store in China. During the past six months, the security company said 467 infected apps were downloaded over 356,000 times, and, as such, may have impacted hundreds of thousands of users.

An interesting aspect of the infection process is that iOS devices could also become infected if they are connected to the already infected Macs through a USB cable (iOS users can back up their devices by connecting their device to a Mac computer using the 30-pin/Lightning to USB cable).

Although there have been reports of iOS malware before, only jailbroken devices were vulnerable. This time, however, is different: iDevices running stock software are also vulnerable to the attack.

Apple responded rapidly after the report went live, saying that it has identified and blocked malicious software apps targeting Chinese users.
One thing we could learn from this case is that we should avoid third-party app stores and use only the legit Mac App Store for downloading apps.

“We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, and we’ve blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching,” Apple said in an email to Reuters. “As always, we recommend that users download and install software from trusted sources,” Apple said.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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