Just Weeks After Apple’s Celebrity Photo Scandal, the Company Has to Deal With a Whole New Security Issue

This time, it's in China

Apple's iPhones and Mac computers are under threat of a new malware attack in China, unwelcome news for a brand that's been dealing with security concerns.

So far, people in China have downloaded more than 400 infected apps 350,000 times, according to Silicon Valley's Palo Alto Networks, which discovered the malicious WireLurker bug. There's no evidence it has compromised sensitive data, other than users' messaging IDs and address book contacts. And the virus has been limited to users in China.

But ever since a massive iCloud security breach in September, in which nude celebrity photos were stolen and leaked, Apple has been making security a top marketing message. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently returned from China, where he discussed data security with Chinese government officials in Beijing.

News of the malware also comes while Apple is preparing to open 25 retail stores in China next year. The company is also in talks with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to bring Apple Pay overseas. 

It's hard to say how much damage this security breach will do—for Apple or for users. Palo Alto security researcher Claud Xiao told the Financial Times the malware "is capable of stealing a variety of information from the mobile devices it infects." Xiao added that WireLurker seems to be a work in progress, and it's unclear what its ultimate use will be.