While the rest of us were soaking up the last of the season’s sunshine, Apple researchers spent the weekend removing hundreds of malicious apps for iPhone and iPad from the iOS App Store.
“The recent exploit on Apple has shown us that even Apple’s system can be compromised quite easily,” said Avast security researcher Filip Chytry. “While this time nothing significant happened, it is a reminder that having everything under an Apple system could potentially make a system vulnerable.”
The malware seems to have been focused on Chinese users. Chinese media reported more than 300 apps including the popular instant messaging service WeChat, Uber-like taxi hailing program Didi Kuaidi, banks, airlines, and a popular music service were infected.
The malicious software programs got by Apple’s strict review process in an ingenious way. Hackers targeted legitimate app developers by uploading a fake version of Xcode, Apple’s development software used to create apps for iOS and OS X, to a Chinese server. It’s a large file, and reportedly quite slow to download from Apple’s U.S. servers, so to save time, unwitting Chinese developers bypassed the U.S. server and got their development tools from the faster Chinese server. Once their apps were completed, the malicious code traveled Trojan-horse style to the App Store.
“If hackers are able to exploit one entry point, they are able to attack all of the other iOS devices – and the fact that Apple doesn’t have a big variety of products makes it easier,” said Chytry.
Recently, an alarming vulnerability has cropped up on iOS devices. This security loophole allows an attacker to overwrite arbitrary files on a targeted device and, when used in combination with other procedures, install a signed app that devices will trust without presenting a warning notification to users.
In a recent article published on Threatpost, it’s noted that the vulnerability is located in a library that lies within both iOS and OS X. In this case, the library in question is AirDrop, the tool featured on Apple devices that allows users to directly send files to fellow Apple device quickly and effortlessly. The problem lies within the fact that Airdrop doesn’t use a sandboxing mechanism in the same way that many other iOS applications do. When making use of a sandbox, every application has its own container for files that it can’t get beyond the so-called “walls“ of.
It’s a common belief (and myth) that Apple products are invincible against malware. This false line of thinking has recently again been refuted, as iPhone and iPad users have been encountering a ransomware threat that freezes their Internet browsers, rendering their devices unusable. The ploy, commonly known as iScam, urges victims to call a number and pay $80 as a ransom to fix their device. When users visit an infected page while browsing using the Safari application, a message is displayed saying that the device’s iOS has crashed “due to a third party application” in their phone. The users are then directed to contact customer support to fix the issue.
How to clean your system if you’ve been infected by iScam
- Turn on Anti-phishing. This can be done by visiting Settings > Safari and turn on ‘Fraudulent Website Warning’. When turned on, Safari’s Anti-phishing feature will notify you if you visit a suspected phishing site.
- Block cookies. For iOS 8 users, tap Settings > Safari > Block Cookies and choose Always Allow, Allow from websites I visit, Allow from Current Websites Only, or Always Block. In iOS 7 or earlier, choose Never, From third parties and advertisers, or Always.
- Clear your history and cookies from Safari. In iOS 8, tap Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data. In iOS 7 or earlier, tap Clear History and tap Clear Cookies and Data. To clear other stored information from Safari, tap Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data > Remove All Website Data.
Check out Apple’s support forum for additional tips on how to keep your device safe while using Safari.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, where mobile developers from far and wide came together to learn about the future of iOS and OS X systems. Along with being the first time I was able to participate in this sought-after conference, it was also my first time visiting San Francisco.
Once you get past its glitz and the glamour, the majority of the event revolves around waiting in a series of queues — long before the actual event began, the line for the event’s keynote lectures had formed around an entire city block. Although I wasn’t one of the first people to camp out there, I did arrive around 5:30 a.m. on Monday to stake out my spot. While the masses of people at WWDC can be a bit overwhelming, there really isn’t a better place to meet thousands of like-minded developers with whom one can strike up an interesting conversation discussing the ins and outs of of iOS development. Read more…
Just about a year after a plethora of celebrities’ nude photos were leaked online, two homes in south Chicago have been raided and investigators have named one of the suspected hackers. As this controversial story and investigation continues to unfold, Avast researchers have come up with a few speculations regarding the origin and motivation behind the initial hack. We’ve discussed the case with one of Avast’s security researchers, Filip Chytry, who has put in his two cents about the situation:
GR: Why might have Apple not flagged or investigated an IP address’ 572 iCloud logins and attempted password resets?
FC: “Putting it simply, Apple just doesn’t have security implemented on this level. Even though they might sound large to us, attempting to track this number of logins and attempts to reset passwords is similar to discovering a needle in a haystack when it comes to Apple’s ecosystem. Read more…
It only took Apple 24 hours to get 4 million pre-orders of the new iPhone 6, and scammers were right there with them to cash in.
In the newest iteration of a scam used every time a new product is launched with fanfare, Facebook pages have been popping up claiming that people who like, share, and comment on a post can win an iPhone 6.
This type of scam is referred to as like-harvesting. The scammer makes the page popular by collecting likes and then sells the page to other scammers. The offer of a new device, like the iPhone 6, entices people to click the like button then spam their friends with the bogus promotion. Thousands of likes can accumulate within a few hours, making the page quite valuable on the black market. The new owner rebrands it to peddle more questionable products and services with their built-in audience.
A variation on this scam is the Survey Scam. As with like-harvesting, you must first like the Facebook page. The difference is that you need to also share a link with your Facebook friends.
This link takes you to a page where you are instructed to download a “Participation Application.” Generally, a pop-up window leads you to participate in a survey before you can download the application. Some surveys will ask for personal information like your mobile phone number or name and address. If you provide those details, you open yourself up to expensive text-messaging services, annoying phone calls, and junk mail. In some cases, the download contains malicious code. The only thing you can be guaranteed not to get is an iPhone 6! Meanwhile, the scammer earns money for every survey through an affiliate marketing scheme.
What to do if you liked a ‘Win iPhone 6′ page
If you fell for the scam, then learn from it and don’t do it again! Make sure you unlike the page, delete comments that you made, and remove the post from your news feed. You may also want to alert your friends to the scams, so they don’t fall for it.
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In the wake of the Target, and now Home Depot, security breaches, Apple Pay wants to provide a safer way to make a purchase.
Nestled in-between this week’s announcements of the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a new mobile payment system called Apple Pay. New iPhone and Apple Watch owners can leave their credit and debit cards at home because the devices come with a chip that lets them tap-to-pay at major retailers.
When you are in one of 220,000 participating stores, like McDonald’s, Walgreens, Disney, or Macy’s, you use the magic of near-field communication (NFC) to hold your phone by a terminal to pay. It also requires that you place your finger over a sensor to verify your fingerprint. The Apple Watch works the same way, without the added security of the fingerprint, and syncs to your iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s. The payment system will work with American Express, Mastercard, and Visa.
Sounds pretty good. But, Google Wallet, PayPal and other NFC systems have failed to really take off; will Apple give us a better way? I asked mobile malware analyst Filip Chytrý to share his thoughts about the security of Apple Pay.
Deborah: From a security perspective, what do you think about Apple Pay?
Filip: I have some concerns. Communications between your device or watch is through Bluetooth, and we have already seen many incidences of intercepted communication between two devices using a man-in-the-middle attack. Generally, anytime you use a pay system there is communication between the phone or watch over Bluetooth. This communication works over a much longer distance than NFC, so payment interception would be easier.
Deborah: I understand the convenience of paying with Apple Pay, but how is this more secure than paying with a credit card? Read more…
A major Apple security flaw allows cybercrooks and spies to grab personal information like email, credit card numbers, and other sensitive data. Apple confirmed researchers’ findings that the same SSL/TSL security flaw fixed with the latest iOS 7.0.2 update is also present in notebook and desktop machines running OS X.
Please apply the patches as advised in this post.
It is clear that we need constant protection to cover flaws that will always exist; flaws that we are not even aware of. Reuter‘s reported that
The bug has been present for months, according to researchers who tested earlier versions of Apple’s software. No one had publicly reported it before, which means that any knowledge of it was tightly held and that there is a chance it hadn’t been used.
But documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden showed agents boasting that they could break into any iPhone, and that hadn’t been public knowledge either.
It’s very public now, and that means the race is on between cybercrooks to exploit the flaw and Apple to fix it. You are exposed until the bugs are identified by the vendor, a patch is created, and it’s pushed out or you install it. Your vulnerability increases when you use public WiFi Hotspots.
Your best protection is constant protection
It’s precisely because we put ourselves at risk by using free WiFi, and we don’t know when the next security crisis is coming that we need constant protection. SecureLine VPN is that protection. Read more…
Everybody knows the story of the beautiful Snow White. An evil queen with a bad temper gives a young girl a poisoned apple, because she apparently thinks that it would just make her day. Poor Snow White. All she wanted was a bite of this juicy apple. I guess this one particular bite didn’t make her very happy. Anyway, she apparently made some mistakes, that I can tell. For example, if she wanted an apple, she should have just picked one from a “genuine” tree. Or she could have had someone taste the apple first, like a brave knight that’s always there for her, protecting her every second.
Yes, it’s been a while since that famous apple incident happened. Nowadays, a girl wouldn’t just accept an apple from a stranger and take a bite right away. She would at least wash it first! If she’s smart enough, she’s going to have something that tells her more about the apple.
With the magic of fairy dust and special effects, let’s transform this story into the world of mobile security.
The Snow White fairy tale came to life a few days ago, when we found a fake Apple iMessage app for Android. There are lot of apps for Apple iOS that are not released for other platforms. For example, when two people have an iPhone, they can send each other messages for free via Apple’s iMessage service. The Android alternative for that service would probably be Google’s Hangouts app. The problem occurs when you want to send a free text message from iOS to Android. Yes, there’s WhatsApp, Viber, and similar apps, but there’s no way to send an iMessage to Android, nor iMessage from Android. That problem seems to bother some people, so they are eagerly waiting for a solution. The evil queen is aware of the need, so she makes poisoned apples and hands them out for free, telling others that they are sweet, juicy, and absolutely free from poison. Yes, I’m talking about fake apps that are trying to look like official Apple apps for Android. Read more…
It’s easy and fast to download apps to your smartphone. They do everything from identify a song you just heard to turning your phone into a flashlight. But there are secrets lurking beneath the fun apps. See how knowledgeable you are about the risks associated with free and paid apps for your smartphone. Answer the question, then read on to check if you were right.
1. Which is riskier?
- Free mobile phone apps
- Paid mobile phone apps
If you chose free mobile phone apps, then you are correct. Overall, 83% of the 100 most popular apps are associated with security risks and privacy issues, according to a new analysis by Appthority. The interesting point this study make is that these aren’t just any old apps, these are the games, productivity, and communication tools created by major publishers like Disney, Entertainment Arts, and Rovio. Analysts also found that paid apps aren’t as safe as you think. While 95% of free apps exhibited at least one risky behavior, so did 78% of the top paid apps.
TIP: avast! Free Mobile Security identifies potential privacy risks, by scanning and displaying access rights and the intent of your apps, so you know how much info you are really providing to each app. Read what Consumer Reports says about avast! Free Mobile Security.
2. Which is safer?
- Apple’s mobile ecosystem
- Android’s “open” platform