Wirelurker, the name given to the malware, has been discovered to affect non-jailbroken iPhones and iPads. That is, those that have not been tampered with to access beyond the protective walls of the iOS system. This means that the usually reliant and secure boundaries of Apple’s controlled App Store have been breached by software. But luckily Apple blocks first malicious software to affect iPhones.
The malware targets devices running iOS by utilising a vulnerability in Apple’s operating system that allow companies and businesses to install their own software on employees devices without the need to be tested and approved by Apple. By doing this, the harmful software can not only access content on the user’s device but also install other unwanted apps and affect existing apps on the device.
This is the first time that malicious software has been able to affect iOS devices that have not been jailbroken, which is a method of removing the protective barriers in place, allowing advanced users to access a deeper level of their iPhone or iPad. By jailbreaking a device, it allows the user to download and install apps that have not been approved by Apple, which could be due to legal issues or of course, apps that could be harmful to the device. By having such a strict protocol in place to govern the downloads that appear on the App Store, it protects users and their devices. But Wirelurker bypasses this and can install itself to the device vis USB cable. Apple have since announced that as always, to only download software from trusted sources, those found on their App Store.
The harmful software was discovered in China, on the Maiyadi App Store, an unofficial application download site that offers users pirated and unauthorised versions of apps. As Apple blocks first malicious software to affect iPhones, it is hoping more do not follow.