It was once an urban legend of the digital world that Apple products simply couldn’t be hacked. Dozens of years and several iPhones later, it’s clear that Apple doesn’t get any special protections from malware.
At least, that’s what Chinese Apple users are dealing with as news of malware-infested apps races around the country’s tech community, Reuters reported. After XcodeGhost was discovered on Monday (Sept. 21), Apple has been scrambling to identify which apps were compromised. In a statement posted to the company’s Chinese blog, Apple listed 25 popular apps that were found to contain at least some trace of XcodeGhost.
The affected apps include the widely used messaging service WeChat, as well as DiDi Taxi, the app for China’s Uber-like ride-hailing service. MacRumors explained that while a handful of apps, such as the games Heroes of Order & Chaos and Angry Birds 2, have been taken off the App Store until further notice, apps appearing in the store now have been vetted for safety. Users are still urged to update their apps to purge XcodeGhost from their devices.
FireEye Inc., a cybersecurity firm, told Reuters that when the dust has settled, XcodeGhost might be found to have infected close to 4,000 apps. For comparison, Apple’s initial estimates put the number of potentially compromised apps at just 39.
Both Apple and third-party officials have stated that XcodeGhost never accessed users’ personal information, instead recording and broadcasting basic device and app data.
“We have no information to suggest that the malware has been used to do anything malicious or that this exploit would have delivered any personally identifiable information had it been used,” Apple wrote on its blog. “We’re not aware of personally identifiable customer data being impacted, and the code also did not have the ability to request customer credentials to gain iCloud and other service passwords.”
As Chinese users sift through the digital rubble of the XcodeGhost breach, Apple might have to revisit its stringent app review policy.
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