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Malware & Threats

“KeyRaider” iOS Malware Targets Apple Accounts

Researchers have uncovered a new malware family designed to target devices running Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. The threat has already been used to compromise more than 225,000 Apple accounts.

Researchers have uncovered a new malware family designed to target devices running Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. The threat has already been used to compromise more than 225,000 Apple accounts.

The malware, dubbed “KeyRaider,” has been analyzed by Palo Alto Networks in collaboration with WeipTech, an amateur technical group from China. A member of WeipTech was the first to discover the threat.

Experts have identified a total of 92 samples of this malware family, which is designed to target jailbroken iPhones or iPads. KeyRaider has been distributed via Chinese third-party Cydia repositories.

A SQL injection vulnerability in the command and control (C&C) server used by the malware has allowed researchers to determine the impact of KeyRaider. Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 reported finding nearly 226,000 Apple account credentials, over 5.800 private keys and certificates, and more than 3,000 Apple App Store purchase receipts on the server. Palo Alto noted that the flaw allowing access to the C&C server has since been patched.

“The malware hooks system processes through MobileSubstrate, and steals Apple account usernames, passwords and device GUID by intercepting iTunes traffic on the device,” Palo Alto Networks researcher Claud Xiao explained in a blog post.

In at least one case, the malware was used to prevent an iPhone owner from unlocking the phone. The victim had been told to pay a ransom to have the device unlocked.

Experts say the threat has mainly impacted users in China, but infections have been spotted in a total of 17 other countries, including France, Russia, Japan, the U.K, the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, Israel, Italy, Spain, Singapore, and South Korea. Palo Alto has pointed out that this appears to be the largest malware-powered Apple account theft operation seen to date.

Researchers believe the malware may have been developed by an individual using the online moniker “mischa07.” A user utilizing this nickname uploaded 15 KeyRaider samples to his Cydia repository on Weiphone, the only website used so far to deliver the malware. Furthermore, the string “mischa07” has been hardcoded into the malware.

According to experts, the data collected by the malware is used for two of mischa07’s iOS jailbreak tweaks designed to allow users to download paid apps from the Apple App Store for free, and make in-app purchases without paying for them.

“These two tweaks will hijack app purchase requests, download stolen accounts or purchase receipts from the C2 server, then emulate the iTunes protocol to log in to Apple’s server and purchase apps or other items requested by users,” Xiao explained. “The tweaks have been downloaded over 20,000 times, which suggests around 20,000 users are abusing the 225,000 stolen credentials.”

While mischa07 is believed to have created the malware, another user known online as “bamu” has helped with its distribution. Bamu has deleted almost every piece of malware he had uploaded to his repository, but experts determined that he initially uploaded 77 apps and tweaks containing KeyRaider.

Palo Alto Networks and WeipTech have previously collaborated on the analysis of other iOS malware, including WireLurker and AppBuyer. WeipTech has set up a service to allow users to see if their Apple credentials have been stolen by KeyRaider, and Palo Alto has released DNS signatures to help customers protect their networks.

Palo Alto says it has notified Apple and provided the company the stolen account information. Apple has not responded to SecurityWeek’s request for comment by the time of publication.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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