Espionage app could be running on your iPhone - if you're still on iOS 7

Espionage app could be running on your iPhone - if you're still on iOS 7

SINGAPORE - IT security firm Trend Micro blogged yesterday (Feb 4) that they have found spyware specifically designed for espionage on iOS devices.

The two malicious applications are said to work specifically with iOS 7 - so iOS 8 users can now heave a sigh of relief. However, Trend Micro warned that iOS 7 is still in one out of every five iPhone and iPads.

Trend Micro said that they found the spyware while researching Operation Pawn Storm - a series of attacks that targets military officials and defence contractors (probably largely in the United States).

One of the apps is called XAgent, detected as IOS_XAGENT.A. The other uses the name of a legitimate iOS game, MadCap, and is detected as IOS_XAGENT.B.

The apps are designed to steal personal data, record audio, make screenshots, and send them to a remote server. They can also steal the contact lists, text messages, pictures and location data.

Trend Micro said that as of yesterday, the remote server contacted by the malware was "live".

The malware can be installed simply by clicking on a link that points to a service to install the app wirelessly. It could also be installed on iOS devices when they are connected to compromised Windows computers.

Trend Micro said that the app's icon is hidden and that it runs in the background after being installed in iOS 7. When their researchers tried to terminate the app, it will restart almost immediately.

On the iOS 8, the app's icon is not hidden, and it cannot restart on its own after being terminated. This suggests that the malware was designed before the release if iOS 8 in September last year, Trend Micro said.

sinsh@sph.com.sg

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