‘WireLurker’ Malware Threatens to Attack Apple Devices
Apple’s loyal users have long thought themselves safe from all sorts of notorious malware and viruses. However, a new report from Palo Alto Networks has suggested that Apple devices are at risk of a virus described by researchers as ‘the biggest scale’ malware they have ever seen.
Dubbed WireLurker, the malware targets both Mac as well as phones and tablets running iOS, when connected using a USB cable. When a mobile device is connected to the infected Mac, the virus spreads and installs nasty apps.
According to a research conducted by Palo Alto Networks, “WireLurker monitors any iOS device connected via USB with an infected OS X computer and installs downloaded third-party applications or automatically generated malicious applications onto the device, regardless of whether it is jailbroken. This is the reason we call it “wire lurker”. Researchers have demonstrated similar methods to attack non-jailbroken devices before; however, this malware combines a number of techniques to successfully realise a new brand of threat to all iOS devices. WireLurker exhibits complex code structure, multiple component versions, file hiding, code obfuscation and customised encryption to thwart anti-reversing”
WireLurker is not the first malware developed for Apple devices, but it is the first of its kind in many respects and only the second-known malware family to attack iOS devices through Mac OS X via USB. The malware is currently contained in China, where it appears to have originated on a third-party Mac app store called Maiyadi. However, the malware is under active development, and anybody downloading any unlicensed apps on Mac or connecting iOS devices to an unknown computer could be vulnerable.
Apple said that it has begun blocking the malware. “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,” the company stated. “As always, we recommend that users download and install softwares from trusted sources.”