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Apple Is Removing Infected Apps from App Store

The scourge of mobile malware has now arrived on Apple’s shores.

by Nicholas Deleon
Sep 21 2015, 1:49pm

Image: Alvaro Ibanez/Flickr

Hackers now have Apple's App Store firmly in their sights.

The company said Sunday that it was in the process of removing iPhone and iPad apps from the App Store that had been infected with malware. While the exact number of infected apps is still unknown, Palo Alto Networks, the computer security firm that first noticed the issue, has identified 39 affected apps, including popular apps like WeChat and Didi Kuaidi, a car hailing service that's Uber's chief competitor in China.

Apple believes the apps were infected after developers mistakenly used a counterfeit version of Xcode, the software that's used to develop iOS apps. This version of Xcode was hosted on a Chinese server, according to Palo Alto Networks.

Speaking to Reuters, Palo Alto Networks rightly noted that this incident is a "pretty big deal" because it demonstrates that hackers can shift their attention away from targeting everyday users to targeting software developers—developers whose software is then downloaded en masse by everyday users.

This is also the single largest infestation of malware in the App Store to date, though Palo Alto Networks said it did not have any evidence suggesting the infected apps stole users' personal data.

Mobile malware is not new, though hackers have generally targeted Android in the past, a fact that Apple has not failed to point out in a tactic straight out of the company's old "Mac vs. PC" ads. Should the problem worsen it could remove a key selling point for the company's so-called walled garden.

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