Paper: Inside the iOS/AdThief malware

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Aug 12, 2014

75,000 jailbroken iOS devices infected with malware that steals ad revenues.

Believing that the device or operating system you use reduces your chance of being affected by malware is generally a bad idea, but those using iOS have the numbers on their side: malware targeting Apple's mobile platform is very rare.

But very rare doesn't mean non-existent. Today, we publish a paper by Axelle Apvrille, a researcher from Fortinet in France, in which she studies the iOS/AdThief malware.

First discovered in March 2014, AdThief (or Spad, as its developers call it) has infected 75,000 devices. It uses the Cydia Substrate extension, which only works on jailbroken devices; hence so does AdThief.

AdThief uses Cydia Substrate to modify the developer ID sent when an advertisement is displayed or clicked, so that the revenue goes to the entity controlling the malware rather than to the legitimate advertiser. Axelle found 15 adkits targeted by the malware, eight of which are Chinese. It should be noted that jailbreaking mobile devices is a relatively common practice in China. An estimated 75,000 infected devices doesn't make the malware very prevalent, but with an estimated 22 million hijacked ads, it provides a decent amount of pocket money for the owners.

Using some debugging information that was left in the code, Axelle was able to deduce that the malware was written by a Chinese hacker, 'Rover12421'. He (or she) has confirmed having written part of the code, but denies having participated in the propagation of the malware.

You can download the paper here in HTML format, or here as a PDF (no registration required).

If you like this paper, you will be pleased to know that Axelle has regularly written for Virus Bulletin and spoken at the VB conference on various aspects of mobile malware. In July, we published a paper on the obfuscation of Android malware by Axelle and her colleague Ruchna Nigam: 'Obfuscation in Android malware, and how to fight back'.

Posted on 12 August 2014 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

Nominations opened for sixth Péter Szőr Award

Virus Bulletin is seeking nominations for the sixth annual Péter Szőr Award.

Haroon Meer and Adrian Sanabria to deliver VB2019 closing keynote

New additions to the VB2019 conference programme include a closing keynote address from Thinkst duo Haroon Meer and Adrian Sanabria and a talk on attacks against payment systems.

Free VB2019 tickets for students

Virus Bulletin is excited to announce that, thanks to generous sponsorship from Google Android, we are able to offer 20 free tickets to students who want to attend VB2019.

VB2018 paper: Lazarus Group: a mahjong game played with different sets of tiles

The Lazarus Group, generally linked to the North Korean government, is one of the most notorious threat groups seen in recent years. At VB2018 ESET researchers Peter Kálnai and Michal Poslušný presented a paper looking at the group's various…

Book your VB2019 ticket now for a chance to win a ticket for BSides London

Virus Bulletin is proud to sponsor this year's BSides London conference, which will take place next week, and we have a number of tickets to give away.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.