Researchers have discovered malware that affects Apple iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads connected via USB to an infected Mac OSX computer.

WireLurker, as it is called, is among just a few examples of malware that has been able to effectively target iOS devices. As a result, it has received significant media coverage. Apple has blocked apps identified as having the malware, and currently, the malware has been limited to fake apps on a third party download site, that is known to host pirated software, for Chinese users.

Although this is unlikely to affect Australian iOS users, it is a reminder that downloading pirated apps or software from untrusted sources is risky. It is also a reminder about the increasing attention Apple products receive from attackers.

About WireLurker

WireLurker is a form of malware called a Trojan, which can infect desktop or laptop computers if a fake app, hosted on the Chinese site, is downloaded. It then attempts to target and infect any iOS device connected to the computer via USB.

Malicious versions of well-known apps included Angry Birds, The Sims 3, International Snooker 2012, International Soccer 2014, Spider 3 and Bejeweled 3.

Once installed on your computer, the malware waits for you to connect your iPad or iPhone, before copying itself (or automatically generating malicious apps) on to your device. The malware can attempt to read and send your device’s serial number, phone number or other identifying information to a remote server controlled by the criminals.

If your device is jailbroken (modified to enable unofficial apps to be installed) other parts of the malware are installed and may attempt to extract information such as your message history, files, and address book.

An older strain of WireLurker has also been identified which targeted devices connected to Windows computers. The Windows version is older and less effective than the Mac OSX version. The Windows version has had very limited impact.

Apple has blocked these malicious apps, and most antivirus vendors have updated their products to address WireLurker malware. There is a very limited possibility of being affected by this malware.

Staying safe
• Do not download software or apps from untrusted sources. Sticking with Apple’s AppStore helps protect against downloading malicious software.
• Use security software for your computer and devices.
• Keep your system up-to-date.
• Do not Jailbreak your device.
• Do not connect or pair your device with untrusted computers.