WatchGuard Security Prediction #4 – The iOS Menace

Experts have been predicting the growth of mobile malware for years. We’ve covered how the increase in mobile device usage has led to an increase in criminal attention. We’ve predicted how the inclusion of mobile wallets, using NFV and RFID technology, would lead to attackers targeting the mobile payment vector. We’ve even talked about how Google’s open developer and consumer strategy translates to more threats against Android devices, since it’s an easier platform for criminals to infiltrate. However, through all these trends one thing has remained the same—Apple iOS has not seen that many threats. Next year, we expect this to begin to change, and for attackers to launch more attacks against iOS users.

Prediction video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjtvfU0Wx4M

Underneath the surface, iOS devices are not technically more secure than their Android brethren. They’re still just mini computers running software. Researchers and blackhats have found plenty of vulnerabilities in iOS software before, including the recent zero day that could easily root an iOS device via the Web. The difference being Apple has retained a much tighter control of their app community than Google, making it much harder for users to install non-sanctioned apps and thus making it harder for attackers to get malware on an iOS device.

However, last year smart cyber criminals found a way around this challenge: they infected the Apple development platform by releasing a maliciously hijacked version of Xcode called XcodeGhost. If Apple’s own development kit builds malicious code that seems legitimate, it makes it much harder for Apple to keep it off their official App store.  Though Apple has since fixed the issue that led to XcodeGhost, and has tried to educate developers about it, we believe cyber criminals will continue to exploit this attack vector to sneak malware onto Apple’s official marketplaces. iOS users should prepare for more threats in 2016.

Visit our WatchGuard security predictions site

— Corey Nachreiner, CISSP (@SecAdept)

About Corey Nachreiner

Corey Nachreiner has been with WatchGuard since 1999 and has since written more than a thousand concise security alerts and easily-understood educational articles for WatchGuard users. His security training videos have generated hundreds of letters of praise from thankful customers and accumulated more than 100,000 views on YouTube and Google Video. A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Corey speaks internationally and is often quoted by other online sources, including C|NET, eWeek, and Slashdot. Corey enjoys "modding" any technical gizmo he can get his hands on, and considers himself a hacker in the old sense of the word.

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