A new malware campaign said to be “the biggest in scale” in its targeting of Mac and iOS users has just been uncovered.
The malicious software has been exposed by researchers at the Silicon Valley security company Palo Alto Networks, who have given it the moniker “WireLurker.” As reported by The New York Times:
“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,” Palo Alto Networks security researchers said. “This is the reason we call it ‘wire lurker.’”
WireLurker is aimed only at Apple mobile and desktop users in China, where users are likely to download infected apps from the Chinese third-party Mac app store Maiyadi. It is also easily avoidable, with users advised to avoid downloading apps from any third-party app store or untrusted source and connecting an iOS device to any untrusted computer.
Be that as it may, the malware is said to constitute “a new brand of threat” particularly to iOS devices.
According to Palo Alto Networks, iOS devices, whether jailbroken or not, can become infected if they’re connected via USB to Mac devices that play host to WireLurker. Infected devices can then be vulnerable to hacking by WireLurker’s creators, enabling them to gain access to the contents of the devices’ Messages and Contacts apps.
Palo Alto Networks has notified Apple about WireLurker. But an Apple spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
Update: Apple has commented on the issue. “We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China,” an Apple spokesperson told iMore, “and we’ve blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching. As always, we recommend that users download and install software from trusted sources.”