The company disclosed the effort after several cyber security
firms reported finding a malicious program dubbed XcodeGhost that
was embedded in hundreds of legitimate apps.
It is the first reported case of large numbers of malicious
software programs making their way past Apple’s stringent app
review process. Prior to this attack, a total of just five
malicious apps had ever been found in the App Store, according to
cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks Inc.
The hackers embedded the malicious code in these apps by
convincing developers of legitimate software to use a tainted,
counterfeit version of Apple’s software for creating iOS and Mac
apps, which is known as Xcode, Apple said.
This is a fiendishly clever assault. They didn’t attack the App Store itself, instead, they created a hacked version of Xcode that seems to work as expected but inserts the malware payload into the apps it compiles. Why in the world would developers download Xcode from a source other than Apple? Because China’s internet speeds are so slow (and Xcode is a multi-gigabyte download).