A hacker or group of hackers in China created the first major malware targeting Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iOS mobile operating system last year, Kevin Mahaffey said in an interview with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg West.
According to the Lookout co-founder and chief technology officer, because Android is so much more popular in terms of number of users, hackers are focusing their attention on the mobile operating system because it makes more economic sense. However, this does not mean that no hacker is trying to infiltrate Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s mobile operating system.
“[…] Interestingly, in the last year, iOS had its first major piece of malware started in China. So we see iOS risk right now is like Android in 2010. The bad guys are just starting to target it,” Mahaffey said.
Mahaffey noted that people in China are more susceptible to attacks because more users in the country download their apps through stalls in establishments and not through the official Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) app stores.
The Lookout executive also added that cyber security and hacking is a very broad topic. For IT, he said that there used to be a separation between enterprise technology and consumer technology. With the rise of mobile and the bring-your-own-device trend, the possibilities of attacks become even more heightened.
For individuals, however, Mahaffey cautions about downloading applications from outside Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) stores.
“I think the largest threats for most individuals is downloading bad apps to their phone. These bad apps can take your data, take your money [or] take your phone hostage and make you pay money to get it back. It’s one of the biggest trends we’ve seen particularly in the U.S. Malware in the U.S. went from 4% annualized risk to 7% annualized risk,” Mahaffey said.
He noted that when they studied their Android user base which includes 60 million devices around the world they saw 7% of their users in the U.S. in the last year had some sort of malware on their phone. One of the biggest trends, he said, is ransom-ware which locks a phone and makes its user pay money, sometimes hundreds of dollars, to regain access. He said the most common attack delivery is through applications seen on pornographic sites which are then installed bypassing the official app stores.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shareholders includes Polar Capital managed by Brian Ashford-Russell and Tim Woolley. Polar reported owning about 2 million Apple shares by the end of September, a 22% increase in fund’s stake in the iPhone maker.