The rise in popularity of Macs, Macbooks, and iPhones has seen even more consumers make the switch from desktops and Android phones. As the number of Apple users grows, so too will the threat from malware. While previously thought of as totally secure, Apple devices have now been attacked and those attacks are likely to continue. Some security experts are now predicting an OS X and iOS malware boom in 2016, as hackers and cybercriminals attempt to tap into Apples user base.
Hackers have previously concentrated on Windows due to the sheer number of users using the operating system. It is more profitable to attack a system that virtually everyone uses rather than a system used by relatively few individuals.
Apple devices are more secure than their Windows-based counterparts, although in recent months a number of chinks have been found in Apples armor. Hackers are expected to take advantage with increasing frequency over the course of the next 12 months.
One of the ways that cybercriminals have started to attack apple users is via malicious apps that have been sneaked into the Apple App store. The Masque attack in 2014 replaced legitimate apps with nasty versions, and other methods have been developed that have allowed hackers to sneak malicious programs onto user’s devices.
First iOS Malware Discovered in the Wild in 2015
iOS malware may be less common than malware designed to attack Windows, but we have already seen a major increase in malicious programs designed to attack Apple devices. OS X malware has increased nine-fold over the course of the past year according to Symantec, and in October the first iOS malware – YiSpecter – that was capable of attacking non-jailbroken devices was discovered. This iOS malware implements malicious functionalities in iOS and is capable of downloading, installing, and launching malicious apps, displaying adverts, and uploading user data to remote servers. The iOS malware attack mostly affected users in Taiwan and China, but attacks such as this are expected to take place worldwide in 2016.
A fix for this iOS malware was rapidly issued by Apple, and the latest versions of the operating system is now immune to YiSpecter attacks. However, this is just the first of a number of new iOS malware that can be expected over the next few months.
Apple Pay is also expected to be targeted in 2016. The payment system was unveiled in 2014 amid claims that it was immune from attack and could not be used to commit fraud, yet only a few months later it was discovered that Apple Pay was being used to commit fraud. Accounts could be used with stolen credit card numbers and purchases made using iPhones.
Apple users are still less likely to be targeted by hackers than Windows users, but the devices are far from immune from attack. As more users make the switch to Apple and its market share increases, hackers are likely to respond and start targeting Apple software with increasing regularity and iOS malware will increase.