Alto Networks discovers new malware targeted at Apple devices
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[November 06, 2014]
By Sai Sachin R
(Reuters) - Palo Alto Networks Inc
<PANW.N> has discovered a new family of malware that can infect Apple
Inc's <AAPL.O> desktop and mobile operating systems, underscoring the
increasing sophistication of attacks on iPhones and Mac computers.
The "WireLurker" malware can install third-party applications on
regular, non-jailbroken iOS devices and hop from infected Macs onto
iPhones through USB connector-cables, said Ryan Olson, intelligence
director for the company's Unit 42 division.
Palo Alto Networks said on Wednesday it had seen indications that
the attackers were Chinese. The malware originated from a Chinese
third-party apps store and appeared to have mostly affected users
within the country.
The malware spread through infected apps uploaded to the apps store,
that were in turn downloaded onto Mac computers. According to the
company, more than 400 such infected apps had been downloaded over
350,000 times so far.
It's unclear what the objective of the attacks was. There is no
evidence that the attackers had made off with anything more
sensitive than messaging IDs and contacts from users' address books,
But "they could just as easily take your Apple ID or do something
else that's bad news," he said in an interview.
Apple, which Olson said was notified a couple weeks ago, did not
respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
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Once WireLurker gets on an iPhone, it can go on to infect existing
apps on the device, somewhat akin to how a traditional virus infects
computer software programs. Olson said it was the first time he had
seen it in action. "It's the first time we've seen anyone doing it
in the wild," he added.
(Reporting By Sai Sachin R in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb
Chakrabarty and Cynthia Osterman)
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