Hackers appear to be targeting the iPhones of high profile people who work in governments, the military and the media
iPhones running on iOS 7 and iOS 8 are vulnerable to a recently discovered piece of spyware dubbed “XAgent.” Trend Micro, a computer security firm, discovered the malware, which is believed to have been created by a group of Russian hackers now known as Operation Pawn Storm, reports the Daily Mail.
Details on the iPhone spyware
The malware is designed to steal photos, contact information, text messages and other private information from iPhones. In fact, the spyware can even reveal the iPhone user’s current location.
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According to the folks at Trend Micro, the hackers are spreading the malware through phishing attacks that come from phones owned by friends and other associates. As with all phishing attacks, the purpose is to get the target to click on a link, which then installs the spyware onto their iPhone.
Once it’s installed, the XAgent spyware starts collecting a slew of personal information. It then sends all that information to a remote server. In addition, it even turns on the infected iPhone’s microphone so that it can record everything that’s being said around it.
Where XAgent came from
The cyber-security firm believes a group of Russian hackers created the malware and that this same group of hackers was previously targeting the media, the military and the world’s governments. It’s believed they created XAgent to help them target high profile people by sending phishing attacks to their iPhones from their friends’ devices.
Trend Micro also said it found another piece of malware that focuses on jailbroken devices. The spyware apparently records everything that’s going on around them. Jailbroken iPhones tend to be more vulnerable to hacking attacks because many of the most important security features have been removed.
The firm’s researchers said the XAgent app runs in the background of the infected iPhones without the owner even knowing. They also said when they try to terminate the process of the malware on iOS 7, it just restarts back up. However, when it’s installed on iOS 8 devices, the malware’s icon isn’t hidden and it can’t restart itself automatically. Experts say this suggests the hackers created it right before iOS 8 came out in September.