Wednesday, July 15, 2015

iPhones Can be Infected with SpyWare Without Jailbreaking... and what you can do about it.

The security world exploded with the news that Hacking Team, a vendor of Italian spyware — software that captures Skype, message, location, social media, audio, visual, and more data, and is marketed as “stealth” and “untraceable” — was hacked…
When it comes to iOS, public reports to-date have claimed that the Hacking Team spyware can only infect jailbroken iOS devices… this is not the case.

While Apple does an admirable job protecting users from most malicious software, the fact is that non-jailbroken devices can be infected with Hacking Team’s spyware too…

For its part, Apple created security warnings to inform users before they install apps from outside the App Store. The challenge, however, is that recent research states that people are getting increasingly conditioned to ignore these security warnings.

Here’s what the warning looks like when Hacking Team’s fake Newsstand app is installed on a non-jailbroken iPhone:

pasted image 0

Once a user clicks “trust,” the app is fully functional on the non-jailbroken iPhone…

So what can you do about it? 
First off, don’t freak out. Chances are, you do not have Hacking Team’s surveillanceware on your device. To check for this specific instance of Hacking Team’s surveillanceware you can:

Check iOS Settings for any apps with an empty name.
Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 12.06.17 PM
  • Check iOS Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Keyboards to make sure that only keyboards you have installed are set up on your device.
Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 12.06.47 PM
And, here are some general tips for staying safe:
  • Keep a passcode on your phone. A lot of spyware sold on the market requires that the attacker have physical access to the target device to install the software. Putting a passcode on your phone makes it that much harder for them.
  • Don’t download apps from third party marketplaces or links online. Spyware is also distributed through these means. Only download from official and vetted marketplaces such as the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  • Don’t jailbreak your device unless you really know what you’re doing. Because jailbroken iOS devices are inherently less protected, they are more vulnerable to attack when security protection measures aren’t properly enabled.
  • Download a security app that can stop attacks before they do harm. Lookout does this, but if you’re not a Lookout user, ask your security provider if they detect Hacking Team and other forms of spyware.