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Malicious links for iOS users

January 23, 2014

Russian anti-virus company Doctor Web is warning iOS device users about a growing number of incidents involving the distribution of links to bogus sites via mobile app advertisements. An iOS user misguided by such fraud can end up subscribed to a pseudo-service and thus lose money from their mobile account.

Recently, users of mobile devices running iOS have been encountering advertisements with increasing frequency in the free applications on their smart phones and tablets. Ads often appear as new SMS or email notifications. In particular, an advertisement of this kind was found in the free weather forecast app Foreca, available for Android and iOS on Google Play and the App Store, respectively. In addition to providing weather information, the program demonstrates banners, which do pose a threat: one of them invites users to participate in a lottery. It appears that one can't lose: as the user taps on the banner, they reach a fraudulent website where they answer a simple question, and then are informed that they have won a valuable prize. To get it, the participant has to enter their phone number in the box on a web page crafted by criminals and then enter the confirmation code that arrives in an SMS. If the victim takes the bait, they will be subscribed to a chargeable information service rather than receive a new smart phone or tablet. At the same time, it’s possible that in order to comply with the law, the quiz’s organizers are really offering a valuable prize, but most of the participants will never get it; everyone who tries their luck is signed up for the paid service. Recently, such a fraudulent advertisement was found in several applications for iOS.

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Websites, offering users of Apple handhelds to participate in various quizzes, tempt owners of Android devices with the widest range of gifts. So, instead of a valuable price, a careless user can get a chargeable online horoscope subscription or paid access to "information services" of dubious quality.

It should be noted that such ads are quite common in Android freeware featuring advertising network modules. Users of Apple devices have become targets relatively recently; however, the number of incidents involving ads in iOS has been growing steadily since the beginning of 2014. iPhone and iPad owners should be very careful about such ads and use their common sense and refrain from submitting their phone numbers on bogus sites.

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