'XcodeGhost' Malware Attack in 2015 Impacted 128 Million iOS Users, According to Trial Documents

Back in 2015, a malware-infected version of Xcode began circulating in China, and malware-ridden "XcodeGhost" apps made their way into Apple's App Store and past the ‌App Store‌ review team.

XcodeGhost Featured1
There were more than 50 known infected iOS apps at the time, including major apps like WeChat, NetEase, and Didi Taxi, with up to 500 million iOS users potentially impacted. It's been a long time since the XcodeGhost attack, but Apple's trial with Epic is surfacing new details.

Trial documents highlighted by Motherboard indicate that a total of 128 million users downloaded apps with the XcodeGhost malware, including 18 million users in the United States.

XcodeGhost was one of the biggest attacks against iPhone users to date due to the number of ‌iPhone‌ users that were impacted. The 128 million impacted users got malware from downloads of more than 2,500 affected apps.

Based on emails shared in the trial, Apple worked to determine the impact of the attack and how to best notify those who downloaded infected apps. "Due to the large number of customers potentially affected, do we want to send an email to all of them?" Apple's ‌App Store‌ vice president Matt Fischer asked.

Apple did ultimately inform users that downloaded XcodeGhost apps, and also published a list of the top 25 most popular apps that were compromised. Apple removed all of the infected apps from the ‌App Store‌, and provided information to developers to help them validate Xcode going forward.

XcodeGhost was a widespread attack, but it was not effective or dangerous. At the time, Apple said that it had no information to suggest that the malware was ever used for any malicious purpose nor that sensitive personal data was stolen, but it did collect app bundle identifiers, network details, and device names and types.

Top Rated Comments

Stromos Avatar
14 months ago
Yes its so convenient to figure out which app store I need to download and install to get an app. Then provide credit card details to any and every developer that I want to purchase something. Then figure out which store I need to open to update an app. Better regularly launch the alternative stores to get updates. Oh a store was compromised which apps on my device came from that store?

No purpose to the end user at all.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deevey Avatar
14 months ago

how are these companies obtaining these private emails?
The ongoing Epic / Apple.

I'd guess these emails were entered into evidence by Apple as an insight into what they actually do in term of securing the App Store, further justifying the 30% commission.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArPe Avatar
14 months ago
If phones turned into multiple App Store flea markets then half the apps installed would be these malware and spyware. Every one of you could have your money stolen or become the next Khashoggi.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hot-gril Avatar
14 months ago
It's silly that Apple has to even justify the 30% commission they charge on their own platform that devs and users are free to use or not use, esp when nobody else justifies the same, but these emails are interesting to read.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjohnstone Avatar
14 months ago

It's silly that Apple has to even justify the 30% commission they charge on their own platform that devs and users are free to use or not use, esp when nobody else justifies the same, but these emails are interesting to read.
Devs are not free to use the platform. They have to pay annually to have the opportunity to be listed. Not all apps get listed. ;)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cosmosent Avatar
14 months ago
Another Nugget thanks to the trial !
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Apple Music One Free Month Offwhite

Apple Music Reduces Free Trial Period to One Month

Friday February 4, 2022 8:34 am PST by
Since launching in 2015, Apple Music has offered a three-month free trial to first-time subscribers, but the trial period has now been reduced. Starting this week, Apple Music offers a shorter one-month free trial to first-time subscribers in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, and other countries. The change was first spotted by Japanese blog Mac Otakara. Apple...
app store blue banner

Apple Says iOS is Safer Than Android Because Sideloading Apps Isn't Allowed

Wednesday October 13, 2021 5:00 am PDT by
In response to the European Commission's proposed Digital Markets Act, which could force sideloading of apps on the iPhone in Europe, Apple has shared an in-depth document highlighting the security and privacy risks of sideloading. Sideloading refers to installing apps outside of the App Store, such as from a website or a third-party app store. Apple's document, titled Building a Trusted...
apple security banner

Apple Outlines How It Will Notify Users Who Have Been Targeted by State-Sponsored Spyware Attacks

Tuesday November 23, 2021 8:15 pm PST by
Earlier today, Apple announced that it had filed suit against NSO Group, the firm responsible for the Pegasus spyware that has been used in state-sponsored surveillance campaigns in a number of countries. NSO Group seeks to take advantage of vulnerabilities in iOS and other platforms to infiltrate the devices of targeted users such as journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and government...
craig wwdc 2021 privacy

Report Highlights How Top Apple Executives Disagreed Over How Far iOS Anti-Tracking Measures Should Go

Monday March 14, 2022 7:19 am PDT by
A new report has highlighted how three top prominent executives initially found themselves at odds in early deliberations about Apple's App Tracking Transparency framework. According to the report from The Information, the executives who disagreed over how far Apple should go in protecting user privacy in digital advertising included Apple's Craig Federighi, who oversees software...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Apple to Allow In-App Third-Party Payment Options for First Time in the Netherlands

Saturday January 15, 2022 12:39 am PST by
Apple has announced that it will allow third-party payment options for in-app purchases for dating apps in the Netherlands, in the first ever concession of its kind. In a message posted on its developer site late on Friday, Apple announced that it will comply with a Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) ruling that compels the company to allow third-party payment services to...
google one app

Google One Disappears From App Store a Day After VPN Launch [Update: Google One is Back in the App Store]

Wednesday February 2, 2022 12:01 pm PST by
The Google One app for iPhone and iPad appears to have mysteriously disappeared from the App Store this morning, and it is no longer available for download. As noted on Reddit, attempting to download the Google One app in the United States and Canada pops up an error message that says "App Not Available." It is not clear why the app has been removed from the App Store at this time, and...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Indie Developer Dogged By Scammy Clone Apps Again Highlights the Holes in Apple's App Store Review Process

Monday February 21, 2022 9:29 am PST by
Apps that copy concepts and features from other apps are nothing new in the ‌App Store‌, but scammy like-for-like clones of genuine apps remain a perennial problem that Apple still hasn't resolved, as indie developer Kevin Archer recently discovered. Archer is responsible for 2Stable's Authenticator App, a feature-rich app that stores and generates secure two-factor authentication tokens...
macbook pro sizes space gray

DoJ Arrests Hacker Involved With REvil Group That Stole Apple's MacBook Pro Schematics

Monday November 8, 2021 4:28 pm PST by
The United States Justice Department today announced that it has arrested Ukrainian Yaroslav Vasinskyi for his involvement with REvil, a group that executed ransomware attacks against businesses and government entities in the United States. REvil in April targeted Apple supplier Quanta Computer and stole schematics of the design of the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that were later...

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...