Menu
Many US enterprises still running XcodeGhost-infected Apple apps, FireEye says

Many US enterprises still running XcodeGhost-infected Apple apps, FireEye says

A new version of XcodeGhost has also appeared that tries to defeat defenses built into iOS 9

Dozens of U.S. enterprises are still using Apple mobile apps seeded with malware for a clever hacking scheme revealed last month known as XcodeGhost.

The computer security firm FireEye said Tuesday it has detected that 210 enterprises that are still using infected apps, showing that the XcodeGhost malware "is a persistent security risk," according to a blog post.

Last month, more than 4,000 applications were found to have been modified with a counterfeit version of Xcode, which is an application development tool from Apple.

The malicious version, dubbed XcodeGhost, adds hidden code to apps, which can collect identifying information about a device or even open URLs.

It was speculated that some application developers, mostly based in China, might have downloaded the rogue version of Xcode due to problems in getting it directly from Apple. Baidu's cloud file-sharing service at one time hosted the modified Xcode, but it was later removed, according to Palo Alto Networks.

XcodeGhost was alarming since apps infected with it easily bypassed Apple's checks intended to prevent malicious applications from being offered in its mobile App Store. That was somewhat embarrassing for Apple, which has maintained tight control over the store to keep its quality high and security risks low.

Apple removed the infected apps from its App Store, and some were subsequently replaced with non-malicious versions.

apples xcode development tool Screenshot/Apple

Apple's Xcode tool is used for building applications for the company's devices.

But FireEye's latest finding shows many users may not have updated the infected apps on their devices with sanitized versions.

FireEye said those remaining malicious apps within U.S. enterprises are still trying to contact XcodeGhost's command-and-control servers. The apps include older versions of the WeChat messaging app from Tencent and a music app called Music 163.

That is dangerous since those communications, which are not encrypted, could be hijacked by other hackers and used for other attacks, the researchers wrote.

Since XcodeGhost was discovered, some companies have blocked network traffic and DNS queries leading to XcodeGhost's command and control servers.

But "until these employees update their devices and apps, they are still vulnerable to potential hijacking of the XcodeGhost CnC traffic -- particularly when outside their corporate networks," FireEye wrote.

Hijacking that data traffic could allow an attacker to show unexpected pop-up windows that solicit sensitive data, force the mobile device to go to a URL or to distribute an app not in Apple's store.

Somewhat surprisingly, FireEye found that 70 percent of the Apple mobile devices still affected have not upgraded to iOS 9, which is recommended. Also, users should ensure all of their apps are up-to-date, which should eliminate the infected apps from their devices.

Whomever created XcodeGhost has also developed a new version that can target iOS 9, called XcodeGhost S, FireEye wrote.

That update appears intended to get around a defense Apple built into iOS 9 to ensure most connections with other servers are encrypted. It also uses a method to try defeat static detection of the command-and-control servers it communicates with, FireEye wrote.

Apple has removed one app infected with XcodeGhost S which loosely translates to "Free State." It's a shopping app for travelers that was offered in Apple's App Store in the U.S. and China, FireEye said.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments