Apple confirms malicious App Store attack

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Apple confirmed on Sunday that it has removed several apps from the App Store to clean up malicious malware affecting users, according to Reuters. Apple moved quickly to solve the problem after several security firms published a list of infected apps, including popular titles such as Angry Birds 2 and the messaging service WeChat.

"We’ve removed the apps from the App Store that we know have been created with this counterfeit software," Apple spokeswoman Christine Monaghan said in an email to Reuters. "We are working with the developers to make sure they’re using the proper version of Xcode to rebuild their apps."

The apps were infected after Chinese developers mistakenly downloaded a fake copy of Xcode dubbed "XcodeGhost". According to the security company Palo Alto Networks, developers downloaded XcodeGhost because the "network speeds [in other countries] are very slow when downloading large files from Apple’s servers." Palo Alto Networks Director of Threat Intelligence Ryan Olson told Reuters that the "malware had limited functionality and his firm had uncovered no examples of data theft or other harm as a result of the attack." In their initial report Palo Alto said that 39 iOS apps had been compromised resulting in "hundreds of millions users" being exposed.

Olson also noted the attack was "a pretty big deal" because it shows that Apple's App Store can be compromised making developers a "huge target" for future attacks.