iOS and OS X users have historically considered themselves relatively “safe” from malware and malicious software. With that said, a new family of malware, currently known as WireLurker, has been discovered attempting to wreak havoc within Apple’s mobile iOS devices and OS X powered Macs, although it isn’t quite the doom and gloom as it may initially seem.
The WireLurker malware has recently been discovered by Palo Alto Networks, a company involved in the design and development of powerful security software. In its current form the WireLurker malware appears to be singling out OS X powered Macs and iOS devices within China, which is good news for the rest of us for the time being, but there is still a very real and significant threat of the virus spreading to the point of being entirely indiscriminate of what if infects.
The newly discovered malware has been assigned the “WireLurker” name due to its ability to detect when one of Apple’s iPhone or iPad devices has been plugged into a Mac. When that connection is detected the WireLurker threat goes to work by initiating a process that installs malicious third-party apps from a shady app store onto the connected device. If that wasn’t cause for concern enough, Palo Alto Networks has also gone as far as describing the malware as being “the biggest in scale we have ever seen“.
In the relatively short period of time since discovery, Apple itself has reacted to the existence of WireLurker and put mechanisms in place to ensure safety and security of users. An official spokesperson for the company has issued the following statement:
We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, 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.
But now that Apple has revoked the enterprise signed certificates the malware was using to install, users who aren’t jailbroken are perfectly safe from WireLurker. But if you’re jailbroken and happen to live in China, then you have to be really careful where you’re plugging in your device.
Palo Alto Networks, the original discoverer of WireLurker, has also created a detection tool for OS X that allows individuals to manually check if any of their iOS devices have been infected. You can download the tool by hitting the source link below, and it’s absolutely free.
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