WireLurker malware infects iOS devices through OS X

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Nov 6, 2014

Non-jailbroken devices infected via enterprise provisioning program.

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks have published a research paper (PDF) analysing the 'WireLurker' malware that runs on Mac OS X, and which is then used to further infect iOS devices connected to an infected machine.

WireLurker is found to have infected 467 apps on the Maiyadi App Store, a third-party store based in China. Infected apps have been downloaded more than 350,000 times.

Maiyadi App Store

Malware targeting OS X has become increasingly common, no doubt helped by the various ways in which malware can maintain persistence, as described in Patrick Wardle's VB2014 paper that we published last week. In the case of WireLurker, it uses launch daemons to install persistently on an infected system.

However, OS X isn't the malware's only target. As its name suggests, WireLurker waits for iOS devices to be connected to an infected system. It then sends information about the connected device to a command and control server. It also tries to install trojanised versions of common apps onto the device.

Interestingly, it even tries to do so when the device isn't jailbroken, by making use of the iOS Developer Enterprise Program. Another VB2014 paper, by FireEye researcher Tao Wei and his colleagues, explained how this program could be used by malware authors to bypass Apple's review process. (A blog post previewing this paper can be found here; we plan to publish the paper here soon.)

WireLurker seems mostly concerned with collecting information from both iOS and OS X systems, but the researchers are unsure about its ultimate goal. However, security expert Jonathan Zdziarski may have a point when he writes 'WireLurker may be trying to uncover the identities of Chinese software pirates'.

I also agree with Zdziarski's opinion that WireLurker is notable mainly because it uses a number of techniques not previously seen in the wild, not because it is particularly advanced. A more sophisticated attacker could easily use these same techniques in a far more effective and dangerous way.

Posted on 06 November 2014 by Martijn Grooten

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

 

Latest posts:

VB2019 preview: Exploring Emotet, an elaborate everyday enigma

We preview the VB2019 paper by Sophos researcher Luca Nagy, who dives deeply into the notorious Emotet malware.

VB2019 preview: A study of Machete cyber espionage operations in Latin America

Researchers from the Czech Technical University in Prague will present a very comprehensive overview of the Machete APT group.

AfricaHackon 2019: a great event and a reminder that security is global

Last week, VB Editor Martijn Grooten travelled to the Kenyan capital Nairobi to speak at the 6th edition of the AfricaHackon event.

Virus Bulletin researcher discovers new Lord exploit kit

Still in-development kit thus far only targets Flash Player vulnerabilities

VB2019 call for last-minute papers opened

The call for last-minute papers for VB2019 is now open. Submit before 1 September to have your abstract considered for one of the nine slots reserved for 'hot' research.

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.