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ZOMBIE iPAD PERIL? Cyberbadness slinger touts tool for iOS

Skype worms, Bitcoin slurping and more – yours for just £2k. Too good to be true?

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A Swiss Army knife-like piece of malware has been ported to Apple's iOS from Windows and Linux, a security research team has claimed.

We're told Zorenium is a low-profile, cross-platform, remote-controllable bot with advanced features including the ability to empty victims' online bank accounts, contribute to distributed denial-of-service attacks, spread itself as a Skype worm, and even mine Bitcoin.

The iOS version of the cyber-nasty can only run on jailbroken iPhones and iPads, it seems. Yet even so, if it really does include all the hyped features, it poses a significant threat – as well as puncturing the comfy notion that malware on smartphones is an Android-only problem.

The only serious piece of iOS malware to date has been a worm that infected jailbroken iPhones and attempted to slurp online banking credentials, way back in 2009. There have been a few proof-of-concept iOS nasties since – but nothing done in anger until now.

The arrival of a zombie iPad version of the Zorenium worm was flagged up by security researchers at Israeli firm Terrogence, who wrote up the threat in a post on the firm's SenseCy blog that apparently includes a Zorenium source screen capture. The guys add:

Zorenium a relatively new and unknown bot, which has been up for sale in the underground from January 2014 is getting new features in its March 18th update, including, also, ability to infect iOS devices (version 5-7), alongside its existing capabilities to run on Linux and Windows based machines.

The purported release notes for the latest version of Zorenium claims its promised functionality includes the ability to integrate with TDL4, an advanced rootkit that can circumvent Windows code-signing checks. The developer boasts the detection of his cybercrime tool by antivirus scanners remains low, at less than a 40 per cent success rate. Zorenium bundles various counter-antivirus features along with various other sneaky tricks, it's claimed.

According to its developer, Zorenium can trick victims into thinking their Windows machines are shutting down by using fake images. The release notes make no mention of any vulnerability that allows the malware to run on iOS devices.

"Whilst the user thinks he or she is shutting down there machine (sic), we can stop (Delay) the CPU Fan, and other fans, which will make a racket making the user believe his or her system is still running. Remember this method is not 100% Guaranteed to overheat the victims computer, causing it to force shutdown," the malware programmer claims.

The malware is said to be capable of running on iOS versions 5 to 7, as well as most Debian GNU/Linux systems and the latest Android tablets.

Multiple security firms, including Kaspersky Lab (Threatpost blog here) and AppRiver, reckon the unknown method of infection would only work on jailbroken iPhones and iPads.

“Zorenium can allegedly run on a jailbroken device, and it’s important to note that anyone who jailbreaks their iOS device should have no expectations of security since they’re circumventing security measures put in place by Apple," said Troy Gill, senior security analyst at AppRiver.

“Also, hypothetically Zorenium could run on a current updated version of iOS IF it were using an unknown vulnerability (this seems unlikely and is purely speculative at this point). If this proves to be the case then it would be a game changer since virtually all mobile malware that exists today is designed to target Android devices.”

The full fat Zorenium - with rootkit, miner and banking modules - is priced at £2,000. A stripped down version without any of these versions is for sale from £350. A version of the malware with P2P control through Tor for added anonymity and stealth costs an extra £5,000, more than trebling the price of the cybercrime tool. Payment is accepted in Bitcoins but the fact the prices are quoted in sterling is curious. The developer states that his "sales are still available to the same contact information despite playing catch me if you can with the cyber terrorism unit in the GB."

Taken at face value, this would hint that a Brit is behind the sale. However, this is more likely to be a deliberate piece of subterfuge than a genuine OPSEC howler, although we wouldn't completely discount the latter. Some have even written off Zorenium as vapourware. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

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