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New Malware Targets iPhones

Nov. 6, 2014
WireLurker, uncovered by Palo Alto networks, represents 'a potential threat to businesses, governments and Apple customers worldwide.'

WASHINGTON - A newly discovered family of malware has the capacity to infect iPhones via Apple (IW 500/4) computers, posing a security threat to devices that have been largely resistant to cybercriminals, researchers said.

The researchers at Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity firm, said the malware shows "characteristics unseen in any previously documented threats targeting Apple platforms."

It represents "a potential threat to businesses, governments and Apple customers worldwide," they said.

The malware, dubbed WireLurker, "is capable of stealing a variety of information from the mobile devices it infects and regularly requests updates from the attackers command and control server," according to a report by the security firm, which added that "its creator's ultimate goal is not yet clear."

"This is the reason we call it 'wire lurker.' Researchers have demonstrated similar methods to attack non-jailbroken devices before; however, this malware combines a number of techniques to successfully realize a new breed of threat to all iOS devices."

Another security researcher, Jonathan Zdziarski, said the new malware suggests a potentially large security issue for Apple devices.

"The bigger issue here is not WireLurker itself," Zdziarski said in a blog post.

"The real issue is that the design of iOS' pairing mechanism allows for more sophisticated variants of this approach to easily be weaponized," he said.

"While WireLurker appears fairly amateur, an NSA or a GCHQ, or any other sophisticated attacker could easily incorporate a much more effective (and dangerous) attack like this."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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