Beijing police have arrested three people suspected of developing the “WireLurker” malware that may have infected as many as hundreds of thousands of Apple users.
Local authorities arrested the three suspects on a tip from Chinese security company Qihoo 360 Technology, the Beijing police’s Internet security team said Friday.
The three suspects, surnamed Chen, Li and Wang, were detained Thursday and charged with creating and spreading the malware, the police said in a post on its official Sina Weibo account. The police did not publish the full names of the suspects.
The suspects had conspired to create WireLurker as a way to gain illegal profits, and used a Chinese third-party application store called Maiyadi to spread the malware, the police added. The Maiyadi site has also been shut down.
WireLurker made headlines last week, after researchers at Palo Alto Networks discovered the malware and found that it could collect call logs, phone book contacts, and other personal information from Apple mobile devices.
Qihoo 360 Technology traced the malware back to Maiyadi, a Chinese site devoted to Apple news that also offers downloads of iOS apps and Mac software.
The malware spreads when users download an infected Mac application to their desktops or laptops. It then will go on and try to infect iOS devices once they’ve connected to the Mac via a USB cable.
About 467 Mac desktop applications infected with the malware were discovered at Maiyadi. WireLurker had yet to progress beyond collecting users’ data, Palo Alto Networks said last week.
Apple was quick to act, and said it had blocked the infected apps from launching on users’ systems. Apple did not specify how it stopped the apps from launching.