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'AceDeceiver' iOS Trojan Spotted in China, Bypasses Apple's DRM Mechanism

A new iOS trojan has been found in the wild that's able to infect non-jailbroken iOS devices through PCs without the need to exploit an enterprise certificate. Named "AceDeceiver," the malware was discovered by Palo Alto Networks and is currently affecting iOS users in China.

AceDeceiver infects an iOS device by taking advantage of flaws in FairPlay, Apple's digital rights management (DRM) system. According to Palo Alto Networks, it uses a technique called "FairPlay Man-in-the-Middle," which has been used to spread pirated iOS apps in the past by using fake iTunes software and spoofed authorization codes to get the apps on iOS devices. The same technique is now being used to spread the AceDeceiver malware.

acedeceiverfairplaymitm
Apple allows users purchase and download iOS apps from their App Store through the iTunes client running in their computer. They then can use the computers to install the apps onto their iOS devices. iOS devices will request an authorization code for each app installed to prove the app was actually purchased. In the FairPlay MITM attack, attackers purchase an app from App Store then intercept and save the authorization code.

They then developed PC software that simulates the iTunes client behaviors, and tricks iOS devices to believe the app was purchased by victim. Therefore, the user can install apps they never actually paid for, and the creator of the software can install potentially malicious apps without the user's knowledge.
From July of 2015 to February of 2016, three AceDeceiver iOS apps were uploaded to the official iOS App Store, posing as wallpaper apps and providing attackers with a fake authorization code to use in the AceDeceiver attacks.

A Windows iPhone management app called "Aisi Helper" that claimed to provide services like system backup and cleaning was installed by users in China, and it went on to install malicious iOS apps on connected devices. The apps were designed to be third-party App Stores with free content to bait users into using them and submitting their Apple IDs and passwords. Apple ID information was then uploaded to the AceDeceiver server.

Though Apple removed the original AceDeceiver iOS apps from the App Store in February (the ones used by the hackers to obtain the authorization codes), the attack remains active because attackers still have the authorization codes necessary to install fake apps on iOS devices. AceDeceiver only affects users in China, but Palo Alto Networks believes the AceDeceiver trojan or similar malware could spread to additional regions in the future. AceDeceiver is especially insidious as it has not been patched (and could work on older versions of iOS even when patched), installs apps automatically from an infected computer, and does not require an enterprise certificate.

acedeceiveriosapp
An AceDeceiver third-party App Store app installed automatically on an iOS device through a computer using the Aisi Helper Malware

AceDeceiver in its current incarnation requires users to download the Aisi Helper Windows app to their computers before the malware can spread to iOS devices, so people who have downloaded this software should remove it immediately and change their Apple ID passwords. In the future, AceDeceiver can be avoided by not downloading suspicious software.

Palo Alto Networks has a full rundown of AceDeceiver, its history, and how it works on the Palo Alto Networks website. It's well worth reading for anyone who wants more information about the malware.



Top Rated Comments

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19 weeks ago
Installing software from a questionable source and get hacked? No way!
Rating: 18 Votes
19 weeks ago
So in order for iOS to be infected, you need to install a 'fake' iTunes to begin with?
Rating: 10 Votes
19 weeks ago
"Though Apple removed the apps from the App Store in February, the attack remains active because attackers still have the authorization code,"

This. This is why Apple should never bow down to the FBI in the first place, and make sure that FBI knows this that nothing is secure in this world except content in a person's head. And philosophically, Alzheimer's is one of the the virus/ malware/ trojans that can wreck havoc to that data as well, making nothing at all truly completely secure and safe.

Apple can remove the GovernmentOS but the code once created can and most likely will be out in the wild very soon. That is a risk that nobody should take.
Rating: 10 Votes
19 weeks ago
Is iOS getting weaker by the day?



Rating: 8 Votes
19 weeks ago

Good old China. Can't create or do anything productive so they have to hack others. They really are one of the worst countries on the planet.

Did you really just say that China makes nothing? Since they seem to make everything , what did you mean?
Rating: 8 Votes
19 weeks ago
What do you expect... you do shady sh*t without fully understanding it, shady sh*t happens to you.
Rating: 8 Votes
19 weeks ago

Is iOS getting weaker by the day?

There’s the way in for the FBI.
Rating: 7 Votes
19 weeks ago
Didn't know the FBI is active in China.
Rating: 5 Votes
19 weeks ago

Good old China. Can't create or do anything productive so they have to hack others. They really are one of the worst countries on the planet.


What a load of ignorant and naive garbage you just wrote. Go read about the countries in this world. Hint, there are more than 10 of them.
Rating: 5 Votes
19 weeks ago

Can Chinese users even see macrumors?

Users in China can visit Macrumours ;) but your query was surprisingly legitimate. the Chinese government add and remove sites to their censorship list all the time (mostly just add) and for a while they banned some site that hosts some APIs that Macrumors uses, I had to use a VPN here for a while!
Rating: 5 Votes

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