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Quick Heal: IoT and iOS the new targets of malware

Security firm Quick Heal has highlighted devices running Apple's mobile operating system as well as wearables in the Internet of Things space as the next to be hit by historically Android-based hackers.

High profile targeted attacks on devices running Apple's iOS and creative Internet of Things (IoT) attacks are on the hacking agenda, according to the latest quarterly threat report from security provider, Quick Heal.

In its third quarter threat report [PDF], Quick Heal predicts iOS will become the new target for Android malware authors and hackers.

"It is expected that Android malware will soon be altered to affect iOS users as well, and jailbroken iOS devices will be the first wave of targets for these attacks," Quick Heal said.

"Recently, the "XcodeGhost" malware was found on the Apple App Store and this is just the beginning of such attacks."

In September, it was found that at least 39 apps installed by several hundred million iPad and iPhone owners included malware.

Given the challenge to get malware past Apple's App Store review team, hackers took a more indirect way with the XcodeGhost malware, by adding the rogue code into what app developers thought was the official Apple version of XCode, Apple's IDE for creating iOS and Mac OS X apps.

Another new trend appearing on the threat landscape, according to Quick Heal, is in the wearables space.

"With connected smart watches and fitness wristbands constantly gathering user data, it is only a matter of time before we see security incidents afflicting these devices as well," Quick Heal said.

"The data collected by these devices can be used against users in several creative ways, and moreover, hackers can create a greater sense of panic by appearing in channels where unsuspecting users will not be expecting them.

"This shock value will lead to instant payback for some attackers."

Quick Heal said that with technology becoming more ubiquitous, and people carrying more than one device, the potential for security breaches is higher than ever.

According to Intel Security, IoT devices are just beginning to be exploited.

The security firm's five-year retrospective report, McAfee Labs Threats Report: August 2015, found the variety of devices, operating systems, and versions provides a near-term resistance to attacks, as few have a large enough installed-base to attract online attackers.

"We all thought that more users, more data, bigger networks, and many more types of devices and other targets like the cloud, combined with more attacks, clever new malware, and increasingly sophisticated actors were creating a perfect security storm," the report said.

"Most of these predictions came true. If anything, the adoption of cloud computing, IoT devices, and mobile devices moved faster than we expected; our 2010 prediction of 31 billion internet-connected devices by 2020 now seems an underestimate."

For the three months ending September 2015, Quick Heal also found malware on Android platforms continues to remain a threat, with 220 new threat families and 148 new variants of existing Android malware families discovered in the quarter.

Despite the new threat families, the number of Android threats in the third quarter was 1,205,487 -- a substantial decrease from the second quarter, when Quick Heal found 1,526,759 threats.

Adware and bundleware together comprised 85 percent of total samples received by Quick Heal in the months of July, August, and September.

In a similar tale for Windows devices, the security firm said adware is especially dangerous for PC-based corporate networks, expecting malware authors to use more sophisticated methods to penetrate networks moving into the new year.

With the Windows malware detection numbers in excess of 370 million -- 137,243,968 samples were received in July 2015 alone -- Quick Heal said it highlights the dominance and prevalence of Windows malware across the world.

According to Quick Heal, trojans were the most common threat type for Windows devices, with 34 percent of samples being trojan-based.