Apple cleans App Store after big security breach

Apple cleans App Store after big security breach

Apple Inc said on Sunday it is cleaning up its iOS App Store to remove malicious iPhone and iPad programs identified in the first large-scale attack on the popular mobile software outlet.

The company disclosed the effort after several cyber security firms reported finding a malicious program dubbed XcodeGhost that was embedded in hundreds of legitimate apps.

It is the first reported case of large numbers of malicious software programs making their way past Apple’s stringent app review process. Prior to this attack, a total of just five malicious apps had ever been found in the App Store, according to cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks Inc.

The hackers embedded the malicious code in these apps by convincing developers of legitimate software to use a tainted, counterfeit version of Apple’s software for creating iOS and Mac apps, which is known as Xcode, Apple said.

“We’ve removed the apps from the App Store that we know have been created with this counterfeit software,” Apple spokeswoman Christine Monaghan said in an email. “We are working with the developers to make sure they’re using the proper version of Xcode to rebuild their apps.”

She did not say what steps iPhone and iPad users could take to determine whether their devices were infected.

Palo Alto Networks Director of Threat Intelligence Ryan Olson said the malware had limited functionality and his firm had uncovered no examples of data theft or other harm as a result of the attack.

Still, he said it was “a pretty big deal” because it showed that the App Store could be compromised if hackers infected machines of software developers writing legitimate apps. Other attackers may copy that approach, which is hard to defend against, he said.

“Developers are now a huge target,” he said.

Researchers said infected apps included Tencent Holdings Ltd’s popular mobile chat app WeChat, car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi and a music app from Internet portal NetEase Inc.

The tainted version of Xcode was downloaded from a server in China that developers may have used because it allowed for faster downloads than using Apple’s US servers, Olson said.

Chinese security firm Qihoo360 Technology Co said on its blog that it had uncovered 344 apps tainted with XcodeGhost.

Tencent said on its official WeChat blog that the security flaw affects WeChat 6.2.5, an old version of its popular chatting app, and that newer versions were unaffected. A preliminary investigation showed there had been no data theft or leakage of user information, the company said.

Apple declined to say how many apps it had uncovered.

Related Post

Apple iPhone 5s is ‘best-selling’ smarphone, leaving Galaxy S5 ...
views 31
A new report revealed that Apple iPhone 5s is the best selling phone in the world, selling 7 million units in May. Market researcher Counterpart surve...
This is the new Samsung Galaxy S6
views 56
Our best look yet at Samsung's next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S6, comes courtesy of T-Mobile. Late Sunday evening, CEO John Legere tweeted out n...
Facebook the leader of social media: Survey
views 37
Washington: Facebook is the leader of social media, says a new survey, adding that the social networking site has also made inroads into becoming the ...
10 feature highlights in Apple’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite
views 40
Justin Sullivan Getty Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at ...
Good News: New WhatsApp update could mean you’ll never miss a call again
views 99
WhatsApp is already the world’s biggest messaging service and this new feature may be about to make it even more popular. Rumours are suggesting that ...

SHARE WHAT YOU THINK