'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

OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
70 months ago
Installing software from a questionable source and get hacked? No way!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macintoshmac Avatar
70 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
70 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
70 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
70 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
70 months ago
Is iOS getting weaker by the day?



Attachment Image
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

16 inch macbook pro m2 render

Gurman: Redesigned MacBook Pros to Launch Between September and November

Sunday July 18, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
Apple can be expected to release its redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros sometime between September and November, as part of another packed fall season for new product launches, according to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman says that the new MacBook Pros will go into production in the third quarter and can be expected to be...
General Apps Messages

All Three Major U.S. Carriers and Google Adopt Rich Communication Services, But No Sign of Apple Interest

Tuesday July 20, 2021 1:15 pm PDT by
For the last several years, Google has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS. RCS is designed to replace SMS, the current text message standard, and it offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file sizes, better encryption, improved group chat, and more. Verizon today announced that it is planning to adopt...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

'iPhone SE 3' With A14 Bionic Chip and 5G Expected in First Half of 2022

Monday July 19, 2021 1:31 am PDT by
Apple plans to update the iPhone SE, its 4.7-inch entry-level iPhone, with an updated A14 Bionic processor from the iPhone 12 series in the first half of next year, according to a report from DigiTimes. DigiTimes' report follows in the footsteps of reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who reported last month the iPhone SE would receive an updated processor and 5G capabilities in the first...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 14.7 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday July 19, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 14.7, the seventh update to the tvOS 14 operating system that initially debuted in September 2020. tvOS 14.7 comes two months after the launch of the tvOS 14.6 update. tvOS 14.7, which is a free update, can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌Apple TV‌‌ owners who have automatic software ...
nso israeli surveillance firm

Report: Pegasus Spyware Sold to Governments Uses Zero-Click iMessage Exploit to Infect iPhones Running iOS 14.6

Monday July 19, 2021 12:35 am PDT by
Journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists around the world have been targeted by authoritarian governments using phone malware made by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, according to multiple media reports. An investigation by 17 media organizations and Amnesty International's Security Lab uncovered a massive data leak, indicating widespread and continuing abuse of the commercial...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 May Feature Apple Watch-Inspired Always-On Display

Sunday July 18, 2021 8:26 am PDT by
Following a successful supercycle launch of the iPhone 12 last year, Apple aims to make another "big splash" with its upcoming 2021 iPhones, which can be expected to feature larger batteries, smaller notches, improved performance, and more advanced displays that may sport an always-on mode. In the latest publication of his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware Now Available

Wednesday July 21, 2021 6:50 am PDT by
Upcoming AirPods Pro firmware updates are now available to Apple Developer Program members as beta versions. AirPods Pro firmware beta one features FaceTime Spatial Audio and Ambient Noise Reduction. Custom Transparency mode, including Conversation Boost, was initially expected to be included in the beta but appears to have been delayed for a later version. Apple made the announcement...
magsafe battery pack 2

Photos of Apple's New MagSafe Battery Pack Provide First Look at Thickness

Monday July 19, 2021 6:36 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack will begin arriving to customers around the world this week, and one lucky person has already snagged one. Steven Russell from Memphis, Tennessee said he managed to pick up the MagSafe Battery Pack from a local Apple Store over the weekend, and he has since shared photos on Reddit, providing a closer look at its design and thickness. Russell shared some...
apple releases ios 14 7

Apple Releases iOS 14.7 With MagSafe Battery Support and Apple Card Family Credit Limit Combining

Monday July 19, 2021 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.7, marking the seventh major update to the iOS operating system that came out in September 2020. iOS 14.7 comes two months after the launch of iOS 14.6, a major update that added Apple Card Family Support, Podcast Subscriptions, and more. The iOS 14.7 update can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the...
magsafe battery pack solo

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack

Tuesday July 20, 2021 11:14 am PDT by
The new MagSafe Battery Pack that Apple debuted this week is arriving to customers starting today and it's also now available for in-store pickup in many Apple retail locations around the world. We snagged one this morning and thought we'd take a look at it to let MacRumors readers know if it's worth the $99 asking price. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. As the name ...