As iPad Popularity Grows, So Does Its Hacker Appeal

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Apple’s impressive growth as a company is a good thing for end users in a number of ways. Apple has more money to spend on innovative new product designs, for example, and its easier to get service and support for your products, not to mention software and accessories.

The iPad has been a pretty big success so far, especially for a category-busting product. But investors and Apple users aren’t the only ones to have taken note of the product’s success. The iPad is now being used as scam bait to sucker in people who might not be that familiar with the warning signs of internet scams, which, not coincidentally, is just who the iPad seems directed at as a device.

So far, the scam only works on Windows PCs, but even if you’re a Mac-using iPad owner, make sure any friends and relatives using the other platform are aware of the ruse. Basically, you get an email telling you that iTunes needs to be updated in order to update your iPad device, and provides a link to the software in question.

Of course, instead of taking you to some kind of iTunes download, the link instead opens up a direct line to their sensitive information, if accessed via a PC. Specifically, the malware in question is Backdoor.Bifrose.AADY, which uses Internet Explorer to open a back door on your system and look around for software serial numbers and login data, including usernames and passwords for various sites.

People on Macs or other Apple platforms, like the iPad and iPhone, won’t be affected at all by following the link, but obviously it’s never a good idea to open suspicious links in emails in case that changes in future versions of the scam.

At least for now, the iPad itself hasn’t been a target for hackers and/or malicious code. Apple’s securely locked down content distribution system in the form of the App Store really helps things there, but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a target in a big way, and this attack is the first sign of why that’s a dangerous prospect. You’ve no doubt seen the articles about people picking up the iPad as their first ever computer. That category of user is the ideal candidate for malicious software, since they’ve yet to experience the nasty side of the Internet and don’t have any built-in defenses against these types of scams.

The iPad is raising Apple’s profile, and that means trouble for those uneducated about Internet security risks. It could also mean problems for all Mac users in the long run, as the iPad draws more people to OS X in the same way the iPod and iPhone did before it. But for now, it’s still the most secure platform around, so enjoy it while it lasts.

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