September 25, 2015

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Apple’s App Store Hit by Malware Attack

Apple users have long enjoyed a somewhat higher level of security, thanks in part to the company’s proprietary approach to software and hardware. With fewer third-party manufacturers involved, Apple has been able to lock down its systems more easily. Also, until recently, Apple didn’t have much adoption in the corporate world, so hackers chose mainly to target Windows-based machines instead.

But those days may be coming to an end.

A security issue has come up recently for Apple, and it’s worth noting for those who use iPhones or iPads. The company announced it has discovered dozens of malware-infected apps on its popular App Store, including WeChat, which has more than 500 million monthly users.

This is considered Apple’s first major cyberattack, since it shows the App Store can be compromised on a large scale. It also demonstrates that the company’s popularity has made Apple’s iOS — and its users — a target.

How to Protect Yourself

Unfortunately, no system is impervious to security issues. Apple once enjoyed fewer problems, but the company has still had issues over the years. If you’re an Apple user, this latest round of flaws provides a good reminder to take precautions like these:

  • Update your software. Of all the protections you could employ, this is probably the most important. Many hackers gain entry into systems through known vulnerabilities that users haven’t closed through software patches. Make the effort to keep your system protected with the latest security updates.
  • Know what you’re downloading. As the recent incident highlights, even apps that show up in the App Store may be infected by malware. Although Apple has cleansed its site for now, malice-minded developers are likely thinking of ways to get their apps back into the online store. Because of that, you should do some research on the apps you want by looking at developer websites and reading user reviews.
  • Don’t “jailbreak” your devices. In order to use iPhones overseas or run apps that aren’t approved by Apple, some users stripped their iPhones of security settings, a tactic known as jailbreaking. But many recently got burned, when more than 225,000 of those phones were hacked.
  • Upgrade your system. Apple’s latest system release, iOS 9, has numerous new security features designed to protect devices, iCloud accounts and user data. Passcodes are now harder to crack, and a new two-factor authentication system should make it more difficult for someone else to access your information.

The recent Apple incidents may be somewhat minor — only 39 malware-infected apps were removed from among the 1.5 million apps on the App Store — but they’re worth noting. Apple’s security has historically been solid, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely protected.

Because of the ability to sync smartphones to desktops and laptops, problems that start in one device can quickly spread to others. Put some protections in place so that you can enjoy your Apple and stop hackers from taking a big bite.

Image courtesy of Flickr user PhotoAtelier.

Melanie Medina

Sr. Director of Digital Marketing at IdentityForce
Melanie is a native of Bolivia who has lived in Boston for over 10 years. She likes to make time to travel, jog, read, and play backgammon. Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, Melanie stays on top of her to-do list while also keeping abreast of identity theft issues. Serious data breaches are happening all the time in the U.S. and Melanie loves being part of a solution that brings peace of mind to families across the country.

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