More than 225,000 valid Apple accounts have been hacked from unknowing iPhone users — but only if they had ‘jailbroken’ their phones. And that distinction usually doesn’t apply to the average smartphone user.
The research from Weiptech and Palo Alto Networks reported that thieves hacked the iPhones using malware that was distributed via the popular jailbreak tool Cydia.
‘Jailbreaking’ your phone is when you remove the hardware restrictions on iOS, Apple’s operating system. The process allows you to access banned apps and customize your phone, among other things.
Fortunately for most iPhone customers, the malware, nicknamed KeyRaider, only targets “jailbroken” iPhones.
KeyRaider can be found in Chinese websites and apps that provide software for jailbroken iPhones. But the malware has spread far beyond China, spreading to as many as 18 countries, including the United States.
“Some victims have reported that their stolen Apple accounts show abnormal app purchasing history and others state that their phones have been held for ransom,” reports Palo Alto Networks.
The iPhone hackers have uploaded software that lets other people purchase iTunes apps for “free,” using the victims’ accounts. About 20,000 people have downloaded the software that lets them steal from the 225,000 affected iPhone owners.
“Jailbreaking” phones has some a huge drawback: The process bypasses some important barriers Apple puts in place to prevent these kind of attacks from happening.