Apple blocks infected WireLurker apps from running

The company advised that people stick to trusted sources for downloading apps

Apple has acted quickly to address a malware threat to iOS and Mac OSX computers, saying Thursday it has blocked apps from running that are infected with the WireLurker malicious code.

A day earlier, security vendor Palo Alto Networks revealed a campaign in which hackers were transferring malware to Apple devices through infected desktop applications downloaded from a Chinese marketplace.

The attack was a novel one in that it compromised iOS devices that had not been jailbroken, or altered to remove the restrictions that prevent people from downloading apps outside of the thoroughly-vetted App store.

About 467 Mac desktop applications were found to be infected with WireLurker at an app store for Chinese users called Maiyadi. The malware waits until an iOS device is connected to the desktop via USB, then uses one of a two methods to infect the mobile device. WireLurker can then steal data from the device, such as phone logs.

Apple didn't say exactly what steps it has taken to stop the attack, but said "we are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, and weve blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching."

The company reiterated its longstanding advice to download software only from trusted sources.

Dave Jevans, founder and CTO for mobile security company Marble Security, said Apple had a few different options for thwarting WireLurker.

One way it infects devices is by using an enterprise provisioning certificate, which is used by developers building apps for in-house that don't appear on the App Store. The certificates are what allows those apps to run on iOS, and in the hands of a malicious hacker could be used to spread infected applications. Apple revoked the certificate used by WireLurker's creators, Jevans said.

That would help protect phones that aren't jailbroken from running infected apps, but it might not help those whose devices have already been infected, he said.

Apple could also update Safari to prevent people from navigating to the Maiyadi website, but users would still be able to get there using Chrome or other browsers. The company could also update its XProtect antivirus engine with a signature to block WireLurker installations, Jevans said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ApplesecuritymalwareMarble Security

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?