'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

(View all)
Avatar
58 months ago
Installing software from a questionable source and get hacked? No way!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
58 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)
Avatar
58 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)
Avatar
58 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)
Avatar
58 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)
Avatar
58 months ago
Is iOS getting weaker by the day?



Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Apple Seeds iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Public Beta 4 to Testers

Thursday August 6, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded new public betas of upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates to its public beta testing group. Today's software releases, which Apple labels as fourth betas to keep them in line with developer betas, are actually the third betas that Apple has provided and they come two weeks after the prior beta releases. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

New 27-Inch iMac's Storage Affixed to Logic Board, 4TB and 8TB Configurations Have Expansion Connector

Friday August 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
Following a report from German blog iFun.de that claimed the new 27-inch iMac's flash storage is soldered to the logic board, MacRumors has obtained additional information in an internal document for Apple technicians. In the document, Apple says that the flash storage is indeed affixed to the logic board and cannot be removed. However, for the 4TB and 8TB configurations, Apple says that a...

2020 iMac Teardown Reveals Internal Changes and Similarities

Saturday August 8, 2020 12:44 pm PDT by
A teardown video, shared by OWC, reveals the internal changes in the new 2020 27-inch iMac. The 2020 27-inch iMac was announced earlier this week with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, higher fidelity speakers, and...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Camera Lens Supplier Experiencing Quality Issues, But May Not Affect Launch Schedule

Thursday August 6, 2020 9:30 pm PDT by
One of Apple's camera lens suppliers for the upcoming non-Pro iPhone 12 models is having quality issues, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. The issues are, however, unlikely to have an impact on Apple's shipping schedule, presuming that Apple's other main supplier can make up the difference. Kuo says that Genius Electronic Optical has discovered...

Google's $349 Pixel 4a vs. Apple's $399 iPhone SE

Wednesday August 5, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by
Google this week launched its newest smartphone, the $349 Pixel 4a, a low-cost device that's designed to compete with other affordable devices like Apple's iPhone SE. We picked up one of the new Pixel 4a smartphones and thought we'd check it out to see how it measures up to the iPhone SE, given that the two devices have such similar price points. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel ...

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Headphones Now Available for $350

Friday August 7, 2020 2:01 am PDT by
Sony's flagship WH-1000MX3 noise-canceling headphones have been among the best on the market for some time, and this week Sony released its fourth-generation WH-1000XM4 headphones boasting some notable improvements on the previous model. The XM4s feature the same basic design as the XM3s, but are one gram lighter at 254 grams due to slightly larger ear pads and some subtle tweaks to the...

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...