Malware known as “Key Raider” has infiltrated more than 225,000 phones in 18 different countries, including the U.S., making it the worst malware phone hacking ever, according to researchers at Palo Alto Networks.

Fortunately for most users, the malware only attacks Apple iPhones, iPads or iPods that have been “jailbroken,” the term used for modifying operating system hardware to remove security lockouts. The modification allows customization and commands that are otherwise unavailable, such as downloads of non-Apple approve apps.

The malware was identified by the California-based tech firm after a months-long investigation was triggered by a sudden rise in complaints by iOS users who discovered unauthorized purchases through the use of their Apple accounts.

KeyRaider infects the device when the user downloads an app that is not approved by Apple. It allows hackers to access users’ private information by interfering with iTunes traffic on the user’s device to steal Apple account usernames, passwords and other device information.

Owners are unable to recover their iPhones after they have been compromised by the malware. Thats right, rendered 100 useless thanks to hackers.

Apple spokesman Ryan James explained, “To protect our users from malware, we curate App Store content and ensure that all apps in the App Store adhere to our developer guidelines. This issue only impacts those who not only have jailbroken devices, but have also downloaded malware from untrusted sources.”

Apple’s statement was echoed by the independent security firm Symantec, which said iPhone-owners risk such attacks when jailbreaking their devices. “Third-party app stores often don’t have the same controls and policies in place and may be used to harbor malicious copies of well-known apps or other malware."

In addition to the warnings about jailbreaking devices, Palo Alto Networks recommends keeping devices safe by updating software. Online sites offer diagnostic tests to determine if a device has been infected with KeyRaider.

h/t WAFF

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