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Keep your Apple ID credentials safe, iPhone maker reports 9% increase in phishing attacks this year

The use of the Apple brand as a decoy increased in the first six months of the year.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 03, 2019, 05.57 PM IST
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A common thread to all phishing attempts on Apple devices is the use of web pages designed to resemble the iCloud service interface as bait to lure people into revealing their Apple ID credentials.
The users of Apple devices are coming under increased attack, with the number of phishing attacks on Macintosh computers, iPads, and iPhones increasing nine per cent from the previous year. In the first half of 2019, the number of such targeted attacks aimed stood at 1.6 million, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. Phishing is the practice of sending emails or messages purporting to be from reputable firms with the intention of inducing individuals to part with personal information, such as passwords and credit card details.

In terms of the number of attacks from malicious software, Apple’s ecosystem fares significantly better than Android and Windows platforms. However, the increase in the number of phishing attacks on Apple users highlights the fact that phishing is a platform agnostic threat that has nothing to do with the robustness of the software architecture.

The use of the Apple brand as a decoy increased in the first six months of the year, Kaspersky data shows. This is nine per cent higher than that witnessed during the whole of 2018. The cybersecurity firm repelled 1.49 million attempts to phishing pages which had an Apple theme. The research draws on threat statistics shared by users of the Kaspersky Security Network, a cloud infrastructure built to respond to emerging cyberthreats.

A common thread to all phishing attempts on Apple devices is the use of web pages designed to resemble the iCloud service interface as bait to lure people into revealing their Apple ID credentials. Many such pages threaten to block user accounts if they choose to ignore the link. Another stratagem used by fraudsters is the use of scaremongering to convince users that their device is under serious security threat, and that a system scan is needed to purge the virus. Some such mails are accompanied by links to sites that demand payment for performing the security patch.

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“While technically these fraud schemes are nothing new, we believe they pose an even greater danger to Apple users than similar schemes against users of other platforms – such as Windows or Android. That is because the ecosystem around Macs and other Apple devices is generally considered a far safer environment. Therefore users might be less cautious when they encounter fake websites,” said Tatyana Sidorina, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

With the latest version of iOS enabling users to log into multiple third party apps using their Apple IDs, the security of the latter become paramount. ”The successful theft of iCloud account credentials could lead to serious consequences – an iPhone or iPad could be remotely blocked or wiped by a malicious user, for example. We urge users of Apple devices to pay more attention to any emails they receive claiming to be from technical support, which request your details or ask you to visit a link,” she added.

Aside from phishing, other types of threats are being used to target macOS-based devices, the most common of which are AdWare software, which is defined as a collection of ‘potentially unwanted programs’. They overload users’ devices and inboxes with unrequited mails and advertisements. Some of these might be potentials threats in the guise of advertisements. Almost 40 per cent of all attacks witnessed in H1 2019 were aimed at stealing users’ financial data.

In some regions, macOS users tend to be targeted more than those in other places. Nearly 31 per cent of users in Brazil were attacked, followed by India and France with 22.1 per cent and 22 per cent. The most potent malware to affect macOS users were different strains of the Shlayer family, which were distributed to unsuspected users as Adobe Flash Player updates.
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