'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.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
ios 18 button bulge

iOS 18 Adds Pop-Out Bezel Animation When Pressing iPhone Buttons

Tuesday June 11, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
iOS 18 includes a small but interesting change for the buttons on the iPhone, adding more of a visual element when changing volume, activating the Action button, or locking the screen. When you press an iPhone button in iOS 18, the display bezel bulges outward slightly. This feature is available for the volume buttons, Action button and the power button, and it will also likely be used for...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

Revealed: iOS 18 Works With These iPhone Models

Monday June 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and hence also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, but older iPhone models will miss out. Here is the full...
maxresdefault

First Look at Messages via Satellite in iOS 18

Thursday June 13, 2024 11:29 am PDT by
Apple has been gradually expanding its suite of satellite connectivity features for iPhone, and iOS 18 brings a significant new one in the form of Messages via satellite. The feature allows users to send and receive iMessages and SMS texts, including emoji and Tapbacks, while out of range of cellular and Wi-Fi networks. CNET met up with Apple's senior director of platform product marketing,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Week But These Devices Will Miss Out

Sunday June 9, 2024 1:25 pm PDT by
Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list. Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Your iPhone 15 Can Show the Time When It's Out of Battery in iOS 18

Wednesday June 12, 2024 2:57 pm PDT by
The iPhone has had a Power Reserve function that holds back a small amount of battery life to allow features like Find My and NFC unlocking to work even when your device has died, and in iOS 18, Apple seems to be improving the feature further for the iPhone 15 models. As demonstrated on Reddit, when the battery on an iPhone running iOS 18 is exhausted, the phone can continue to show the time ...

Top Rated Comments

OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
108 months ago
Installing software from a questionable source and get hacked? No way!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macintoshmac Avatar
108 months 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.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hfletcher Avatar
108 months ago
So in order for iOS to be infected, you need to install a 'fake' iTunes to begin with?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Norbs12 Avatar
108 months ago
What do you expect... you do shady sh*t without fully understanding it, shady sh*t happens to you.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ForkHandles Avatar
108 months 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?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sirious Avatar
108 months ago
Is iOS getting weaker by the day?



Attachment Image
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)