Viruses For iOS - Why They Are So Complicated And How To Handle Them
New virus types for recently created gadgets
All of us are familiar with products produced by Apple such as smartphones, tablet computers, portable media players. Now it is complicated to imagine our life without these modern instruments that give us many possibilities, for example, making calls, watching films, listening to the music, working, playing video games and more. Generally said that these devices are safe to use and one does not need to worry about interruption of work on it, but in reality even highly protected systems have trap doors that could be used for sending harmful programs. The topic we are going to explore is really new and useful to know for iOS users. Let’s see if this operating system has an actual loop hole for viruses or this threat can remain strained.
As a general rule viruses can appear on any executive system, and the mobile line of Apple in this case is not an exception. An amount of such malware is not big and the producer company guards its users so badly, that owners of any type of the famous brand can be sure about safety.
However, analytics think that if somebody wants to find vulnerabilities, he can do it for sure, including iOS.
The small number of viruses in the mentioned system is explained with the next opinions:
- virus writers are not interested in Apple users
- a tough policy of the company and reliable control over applications loaded in App Store
Anyway it is possible to find in the Internet proofs of virus existence for an “apple” platform.
Main problems caused by viruses
Usually viruses are created to get illegally a small sum or a large sum of money means. As a result the virus can cause troubles also in these ways:
- steal and pass personal information to intruders (passwords, credit card numbers, information the contact list)
- organize putting on a mailing list or make calls on paid numbers
- watch over the user (localize, fixing calls, take pictures and so on)
- download and secretly install other harmful programs
- delete, damage or send user files to virus creators
- send messages in social networks on user’s behalf
The way to meet viruses
In most cases fans of freebies or not licensed usage of own tablets or smartphones can catch such viruses rapidly. Besides, jailbreak and unlock operations are not only legal, but also potentially dangerous.
Moreover, more often than not viruses for iOS are written in the way that they will not start on the unmodified operating system; the system will not allow doing that. However, if the user, who sees himself as really smart, has broken the a mobile “axis” and gotten “more opportunities”, at the same time he has caused damage to protection of the device, which now can obtain viruses from applications spread through Google Play and also chances to install different unneeded things from unchecked resources.
Aside from that, early versions of iOS have low protection level, especially those that were before iOS 6. They are better studied by criminals and they contain more popular vulnerabilities through which malicious programs can get in.
Another place to meet malicious software is when the user downloads programs from App Store. If to leave notorious protection with manual control of access, harmful programs more often get into the store avoiding barriers. Here we clearly see consequences of the factor of a human error.
Criminals write viruses under a cover of applications for iOS with useful functionalities, which are actually realized. Taking into consideration that such programs work and comply with a declared purpose, moderators allow their passage very often.
Carelessness of users – who are ready to download or install everything and anything – facilitates for easiness of infection. Sometimes in comments to such software it is possible to notice a warning from other injured people. In proportion to revealing all these comments are cleared off from free access, but not always fast and timely.
Type of viruses for iOS
Comparing to the desktop version, mobile iOS stayed relatively a long period as one of few secured operating systems. Up to recent time the main dangers for iPhone and iPad users were sometimes allowed (by moderators) harmful applications in the App Store that stealing given fake gift iTunes cards.
Everything has been changed in 2014, when owners of Apple devices just in few weeks apart became victims of two powerful Trojans. The first victims of the spread virus called WireLurker through unknown stores were Chinese users. The program was spying on users and stealing their personal and financial data. After a while Chinese authorities closed the website, through which the Trojan spread, and also arrested creators of this virus.
If to observe WireLurkel in details, it is necessary to say that this program watches over connecting iPhones, iPads and other devices on the Apple iOS platform to the computer. As long as the user connects his machine with a USB cable to any infected computer, WireLurker will install external downloaded applications on it or automatically generate suspicious applications on the device irrespective of jailbreak presence.
Generally speaking the chance to download and install an application from an external resource (different from an official shop of App Store) on iOS devices is higher on broken appliances (where the jailbreak was done). But for WireLurker it is not important – this virus successfully infects mechanisms without any jailbreak. For this reason experts of Palo Alto Networks associated it with “the threat for iOS devices of an absolutely new type”.
WireLurker differs by a complicated code structure, consists of components of various versions, applies techniques for hiding files and code obfuscation, and also uses modified encrypting methods, and all of that to perplex its research by professionals on IT security.
Finding itself on a mobile device, the mentioned harmful program can steal different data. Beyond that, it regularly sends requests on the deleterious server for checking availability of updates. The destructive instrument is in a development stage. More specific goals that are persecuted by their authors are not clear as it was informed by Palo Alto Networks.
“Hackers are still preparing for a possible attack, – Ryan Olson (a head of cyber threat researches in Palo Alto Networks) supposed. Regardless the fact that such virus type was detected for the first time, it is quite enough that other hackers could know that there is a way to break that reliable protection with which Apple equipped its iOS devices.”
Palo Alto Networks informed Apple about a new virus type. Apple decided to leave a unreplied request about that sent to the company by The New York Times. Hereat professionals strongly recommend that users should download applications on their Mac only from a reliable source – official Mac App Store, – and also do not connect iPhones and iPads to computers that are not trustworthy.
Masque Attack was recognized as hugely more dangerous, that helped to substitute iPhone and iPad applications for own versions and got access to all smartphone information. The danger threatens to fans who like to download applications from external resources. However, a massive inbreak of iCloud profiles in September 2014 put a question mark over security of personal data, stored on Apple devices. At that time intimate pictures of Hollywood celebrities appeared in the Internet, FBI picked up the trail of hackers only in October 2015.
In 2015 the quantity of iOS vulnerabilities has grown. In 2015 malicious applications that put on a mask of Facebook, Skype and Twitter showed up in AppStore and gave criminals access to user private information.
Later a new virus allowed hackers to steal 225 thousands of Apple ID accounts, and infecting instruments for developers led to emerging of 340 dangerous applications in AppStore. Even the yield of the new mobile version of the OS for iOS 9 did not help much.
Researchers from the French Network and Information Security Agency (ANSSI) demonstrated a cracking method for iPhone and iPad via the voice helper of Siri. A hacker can silently give commands to the machine from the distance less than five meters if headphones are connected to the appliance. Their wire functions as an antenna, where the radio signal can be sent that will be perceived by iOS as a voice command for a device owner. Using this way, the criminal can carry out commands, message sending and dialing a number on victim’s smartphone.
Counteractions and security
In most cases iPhone and iPad owners do not bother about safety which is hardly a surprise. Still there are few pieces of advice that should be given to newcomers. Thanks to these steps, users will not catch different virus types and be able to use reliable and convenient iOS.
Use modified versions of iOS and do not jailbreak. It is illegal and connected with protection breaking of your device that can lead to opening ways for viruses.
Refuse from official updates. Each update, except increasing ease of use, removes bugs in the security system. That’s why users should not neglect them.
Install unknown software that just appeared in App Store. Applications, came out from nowhere, especially hack-focused, might happen malware. High quality software always has many positive reviews and recommendations.
Install any hacked programs. If it is absolutely necessary, download it not on the iOS device, but on MacBook or the Windows system checking it with an antivirus program.
Go along with a shoddy scam; do not tempt to offers promising easy money and other benefits. Remember about free lunch. It is a way to spread harmful instruments. Such letters can come to an e-mail or by SMS. Just ignore them.
If viruses got into the iOS platform anyway, you should not worry about what to do. Even though it is difficult to find good antivirus programs for this operating system, there is a solution to handle it. In fact if any virus appears on iOS it is quite a “significant event” (in virtue of its queerness) which means that it becomes open practically at once to Apple. The company instantly closes a “hole” in software timely producing updates. One should not take into account such vulnerability as banners in Safari – they use browser cookies and one can do nothing with it.