iPhone: a thousand infected apps intercept user data – le journal du geek

Many iPhone and iPad apps are said to host a malicious ad SDK capable of intercepting a user's various requests. In total, these applications accumulate 300 million downloads each month.

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Credit: William Hook via Unsplash

While it regularly happens that Android apps are pinned for hosting malware or being a little too intrusive, iPhone users might not be much more protected. As Snyk's security researchers discovered, malicious code was found in more than 1,200 iOS apps that used the entire Chinese advertising platform Mintegral. This malicious code made it possible to copy all the requests collected by the application, and then send them back to Mintegral.

Concretely, it was a question of attributing to oneself the data collected by third-party advertising platforms and then monetizing it, which, according to the security researchers at Snyk, represents a breach of privacy and data protection. This SDK was thus able to intercept users' "taps", and could, according to Synk, recover certain sensitive information such as their identifiers. "Mintegral could monetize this data by selling it to third parties for analysis" say the researchers. In a video posted on YouTube, Synk demonstrates how this SDK goes about abusing data from users of these applications.

In total, the malicious SDK would have been integrated into over 1200 iOS apps, yet still present in the Apple App Store. In total, these applications accumulate nearly 300 million downloads per month across the world. Unfortunately, researchers do not mention the name of these applications. However, it does prove that iPhone users are not necessarily more immune than others in terms of abusive data collection.


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