WireLurker: the beginning of the end of Apple’s “no virus” culture?

Fans of Apple have, for many years, proudly declared their computing environment to be virus free. Once considered a niche computing platform by many, Apple have been in the mainstream now for some years, thanks to the explosive growth of their iPhone and iPad products. iPhone and iPad growth has translated into sales of Apple’s desktop and laptop products and, as a software developer, supporting Apple’s iOS platform now has to be a serious consideration on every project.

Sadly, being bigger also means that Apple is a bigger target for those software developers who put their time and energy into creating malicious software designed to steal, corrupt, or otherwise interfere with our data and computers.

It’s a testament to how mainstream computing has become, and how important to all our lives our electronic data now is, that any significant virus or security problem makes the news. What’s odd is that problems in the Apple world still seem to be treated as a freak occurrence. The marketing machine, underpinned by Apple’s legion of loyal and evangelistic fans, are keeping the myth of “no viruses” alive and well, even through the truth is somewhat different.

The most recent security issue to hit the Apple platform, dubbed “WireLurker” has already infected a huge number of devices. Using a security certificate issued by Apple, the malware is able to install itself automatically to an iPhone that is connected by USB to an infected Apple computer. The payload of the virus is still unclear but the program communicates frequently with the attacker’s command and control centre, making it clearly capable of stealing and relaying a variety of data from an infected iPhone.

Apple have been quick to respond, with an Apple spokesman issuing a warning users that “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.”

However, infected apps have also been found in Apple’s official App Store and it is clear that attacks on Apple’s platform are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated.

Apple’s traditional “closed door” approach is frustrating some anti-virus vendors who believe that users would be better served if Apple adopted a more open approach to security. Eugene Kaspersky, the chief executive of antivirus software firm, Kaspersky Lab, that provide anti-virus to some 300 million users worldwide, told the Wallstreet Journal “every system has a vulnerability. If it happens – in the worst case scenario, if millions of the devices are infected – there is no antivirus, because antivirus companies don’t have any rights to develop true end-point security [for Apple].”

If your business relies heavily on Apple products, it’s time to add viruses and security to your list of concerns and, please, watch this space with care.

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March 1st, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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