US-based security firm discovered a new threat WireLurker, which is attacking iPhones and iPads through Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. WireLurker spreads from infected OS X Mac computers to iPhones and iPads via USB.
WireLurker malware first attacked China’s third-party Mac OS X app stores. Here it targeted a number of popular apps, namely the Meitu photo app, the Taobao online auction app, or the AliPay payment app.
Basically, when an iOS device is connected with an infected Mac system, WireLurker quickly determines its jailbreak status. Jailbreaking is the process to remove some of Apple’s restrictions and allow root access to the device. If the device is found jailbroken, then WireLurker could easily replace legitimate apps with the malicious version of the same app.
However, if the iOS device is not found jailbroken – which is the case for most iOS devices, then WireLurker takes benefit of a technique created by Apple that allows businesses to install special software on their employee’s iPhones and iPads.
Researchers say that the ultimate goal of WireLurker attacks, which is limited to China, is not clear. However, this malware is capable of stealing system information and data stored on mobile devices.
Researchers also add that this is the biggest scale threat to OS X ever seen, as it is the first malware to infect installed iOS apps in the same manner as a traditional virus does.
On this Apple said, “We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, and we have blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching. Apple also recommended users to download apps from legitimate sources only.