Australian Government issues security warning to Apple users

A new "Masque Attack" can compromise Apple devices

The Federal Government has warned Australians of a new "Masque Attack" which can compromise Apple devices via malicious apps.

Researchers have discovered a technique that may enable attackers to substitute malware for a legitimate app on Apple iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.

This ‘Masque Attack’ technique – exposed by security researchers FireEye − closely follows the announcement of ‘WireLurker’ malware, which also targets iOS devices.

"Although the risk of being subjected to a Masque Attack is low, it is another reminder not to download pirated apps or software from untrusted sources. It is also a reminder that Apple products are increasingly being targeted by attackers," according to a statement from Stay Smart Online, and Australian Government initiative.

US authorities have also issued a warning about Masque Attack.

A Masque Attack can occur if a user downloads an app from a rogue source such as a link embedded in a phishing email or from an unofficial app site hosting fake ‘uncertified’ apps.

The Masque Attack takes advantage of a weakness in iOS security which can enable malware to be installed.

If a malicious app can be crafted to use the same ‘bundle identifier’ (an ID Apple uses to identify individual apps) as a legitimate app on your phone, Apple will not check its security certificate. It means that a malicious app can replace a legitimate app on your device.

A criminal using the Masque Attack technique will typically disguise their malware as a popular game or other software (such as New Angry Birds) to lure a user to install it.

Read more: ESET to launch new business line of products in 2015

Once installed it may be able to steal information from your device such as passwords or internet banking details and send them to a remote server controlled by criminals. Possible impacts include the malware being able to steal logon credentials; access sensitive data; avoid detection and steal Apple IDs and passwords.

The government has advised iOS users not to download software or apps from untrusted sources.

"Sticking with Apple’s AppStore helps protect against downloading malicious software," according to a government statement.

"Do not click ‘install’ from pop ups when viewing a web page.

"If your iOS device shows an ‘Untrusted App Developer’ alert when you open an app, click on ‘Don’t Trust’ and uninstall the app immediately.

It has also recommended using security software for all computer and mobile devices.

"Keep your system up-to-date by downloading software updates as they are released," the statement said.

Do not connect or ‘pair’ your device with untrusted computers."

Read more: Phablet showdown: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 v Apple iPhone 6 Plus

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