Apple brags at every opportunity about its security systems, mainly guaranteed by the fact that iOS, macOS and other operating systems are closed, with software compatible with the devices downloaded exclusively from the App Store. It seems, however, that the App Store is not (anymore) as secure as previously thought, as seven apps in the macOS version were found to actually run malware in addition to their basic functions.
Digital security researcher Alex Kleber has discovered that the macOS App Store hosts at least seven apps that include malware. These were apparently developed by different companies, but on closer investigation it turned out that all of them were actually controlled by a single group based in China.
The apps promised to offer features such as PDF editing, alternatives to Word-like applications, screen recording or webcam video streaming. Apparently the method of bypassing Apple’s protections was ingenious, as the apps appeared legitimate at first glance, but an encrypted part of them would activate on command after the apps were approved by Apple. This suggests that there is a possibility that other similar apps are hidden in the App Store database without anyone knowing.
Here’s the list of dangerous apps on the Mac App Store:
If you have a macOS computer and have downloaded any of these, it would be a good idea to manually delete them from your computer.
- PDF Reader for Adobe PDF Files (Sunnet Technology Inc.)
- Word Writer Pro (Netozo Limited)
- Screen Recorder (Safeharbor Technology L Ltd.)
- Webcam Expert (Wildfire Technology Inc.)
- Streaming Browser Video Player (Boulevard Technology Ltd.)
- PDF Editor for Adobe Files (Polarnet Limited)
- PDF Reader (Xu Lu, apparently associated with Sunnet Technology Inc.)
A few of them were very popular on the App Store, most of them being in the top 100 most downloaded apps on the platform, while PDF Reader for Adobe PDF Files had even reached number 1 in the Education category in the US.