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iOS security risks: After the XcodeGhost exploit is Apple's iOS really safer than Android? Plus: What security apps do you need for iPad & iPhone

Karen Haslam | Sept. 24, 2015
In this article we look at some of the security threats that have hit Apple's iOS devices, including XcodeGhost, WireLurker, Masque Attack, the Olag Pliss ransom case and the SSL flaw.

Sure enough, just a week after WireLurker stole the headlines, another iOS 8 malware threat emerged. This threat, known as Masque Attack creates decoy apps that are like those on your iPhone, and these decoy apps attempt to steal your personal information. According to FireEye, who spotted the threat, Masque Attacks can pose much bigger threats than WireLurker.

So, following these recent situations, can Apple maintain its stance that iOS is secure. We examine the various cases that have begged the question of security on the iOS platform, we look at how to make sure your iPhone or iPad is secure (and the problems some people have experienced when updating their device), and we asking whether this mean that Apple's iOS isn't secure? Read on to find out...

PART 1: Security threats to iOS devices

We examine the XcodeGhost, WireLurker and Masque Atteck malware, the Olag Pliss ransom case and the SSL flaw. Plus: What really happened in the Jennifer Lawrence nude images leak?

Is XcodeGhost a threat?

39 apps have been affected by the malicious code, according to security firm Palo Alto Networks, however the affected apps are developed in and hosted in China, so it is unlikely that you will be running any of them on your iPhone or iPad, unless you had downloaded them from the Chinese App Store.

For example, while Angry Birds 2 is affected by the exploit, apparently it is only the Chinese App Store version that is affected.

If you are in China, Apple has already removed the affected apps from the App Store.

Was Masque Attack a threat?

Masque Attack, a threat spotted by FireEye, creates decoy apps that mimic those on your iPhone and steal your personal information.

Apple was able to block WireLurker by blocking enterprise certificate that it was using to install malicious apps, but Masque Attack uses the same bundle identifiers as existing apps instead. According to FireEye: "This vulnerability exists because iOS doesn't enforce matching certificates for apps with the same bundle identifier."

To avoid being compromised by Masque Attack, only install apps that come directly from the App Store, don't click on Install if you see a pop-up on a website or if you see a prompt to install an update to an app like Flappy Bird. Also, if iOS displays an alert that an app is from an Untrusted App Developer tap Don't Trust and uninstall it.

At its worse the malware could replace Gmail or banking apps with a fake apps that would steal your data you give it.

FireEye said: "We verified this vulnerability on iOS 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 8.0, 8.1 and 8.1.1 beta, for both jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices. An attacker can leverage this vulnerability both through wireless networks and USB."

 

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