Security researchers have discovered malicious apps on the official Apple App Store in China after developers of several well-known titles accidentally downloaded and used an infected version of a popular app-building tool.
A malicious version of compiler Xcode was spread via links on popular developer forums. When used to build an app, it added in malicious code, according to Palo Alto Networks.
The XcodeGhost malware in question apparently steals device information before sending to a remote server where the attackers can craft phishing attacks by requesting users’ iCloud passwords.
“Based on this new information, we believe XcodeGhost is a very harmful and dangerous malware that has bypassed Apple’s code review and made unprecedented attacks on the iOS ecosystem,” said Palo Alto’s Claud Xiao.
“The techniques used in this attack could be adopted by criminal and espionage focused groups to gain access to iOS devices.”
Some 39 apps have been identified as malicious so far in this attack including a version of WeChat – one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world.
Others include an app from leading Chinese telco Unicom and popular decompression tool WinZip.
The incident is surprising as Apple’s testing and approvals process for apps to be allowed into its App Store is notoriously rigorous.
Piers Wilson, head of product management at Huntsman Security, argued that the incident could have security implications for BYOD handsets in the corporate sphere.
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