iOS software is fighting a new problem which just came into existence this week when a brand new unlike any other type of malware took over forcefully by using pop-ups as its gateway to get as much access as it could to a subject’s iPhone. It can then transfer to another device using the same process of jumping on pop-ups and gain access to as many user’s phones as it wants making it virtually unstoppable.
The Virus Bulletin newsletter stated in its last release that “Adthief”, which is what the new malware virus is being called, has reached up to 22 million pop-up infected ads, and the amount of users who have already suffered from the malware virus taking over their phones has surpassed 75,000 devices which are mostly jailbroken. Most of the devices infected have been running on IOS Apple iPhone 4 & 4s. The malware virus went unnoticed for a short period of time, but mobile security run independently by study researcher Claud Xiao from China quickly noticed that something wasn’t right. Although he found out about the problem a lot sooner than the public did, he until this day is incapable of finding out a solution to stop the virus malware’s outbreak. For such a malware to target ads which are being displayed to millions of devices every single day which can make the first outbreak a very strong one.
Another Virus Bulletin report which was conducted by Axelle Aprville described his attempts to analyze the virus malware, and develop a way to stop its outbreak. She analyzed the virus and how it works for several months in an attempt to understand everything there is to know about “Adthief” until finally her report came which informs that the virus took its time to develop while laying low before fully breaking out and expanding to so many pop-ups.
Axelle identified exactly what “Adthief” does and went on to explain it on the Virus Bulletin. In general how an ad works is that an affiliate posts an ad of a product or service and gets paid a certain amount of money each time the ad is clicked. The money due based on how many clicks or views a specific ad received is tracked by way of tracking cookies or url variables. The virus infects these ads taking over these aspects and instead of the original affiliate being accredited for his ad being viewed and paid what their earnings, the person who planted the virus malware steals those funds and they end up in their wallet instead of the original affiliate. Hence the name AdTheif.
The good news is that if the phone is still not jailbroken, Apple security will detect the virus malware in the ad and report it, in other word non-jailbroken iPhones are unaffected by this issue. If the phone was jailbroken however, chances are you might run into an ad that will take over your phone’s access and dedicate all opened ads to the virus’s creator.
The virus itself doesn’t really pose a threat to your everyday browsing of the web or simply using your iPhone, it only affects affiliate marketers who make a living running advertisements. To the average user they may not even notice a difference. As a temporary fix to this issue however you can reset your browser settings and clear your cache. This will remove the malware code from your device. For more extreme cases it is also recommend to format your iPhone if the above solution doesn’t solve the issue.
Tim Cook spoke out and placed blame on Google Play Store for not running enough securities to blocking such a virus malware from reaching their app store. Unlike Apple which claims to have a very high level of security and is selective as to which apps get published live for download.