Chinese authorities arrest three over iOS malware

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image captionObservers said it was not yet clear what the malware aimed to achieve

Three people have been arrested in China on suspicion of spreading malware that targeted Apple's operating system, Chinese officials have announced.

The Beijing Bureau of public security announced the arrest of suspects charged with spreading the WireLurker malware.

The bug was one of the first pieces of malware to penetrate iPhone's strict software controls.

It mainly infected devices in China.

The suspects - named only as Chen, Lee and Wang - were arrested in the Beijing area, according to the statement posted on Chinese social network Sina Weibo.

The Chinese authorities also shut down the site that had been spreading the malware.

The malware was installed via software downloaded to Mac desktops from the Maiyadi app store.

It was then able to attack iOS devices connected to an infected Mac via a USB cable.

If a handset was jailbroken - a process used by some to remove Apple's restrictions - WireLurker backed up the device's apps to the Mac, where it repackaged them with malware, and then installed the infected versions back on to the iOS machine.

But, according to security experts, the malware was also able to infect non-jailbroken iOS devices.

It did so by taking advantage of a technique created by Apple to allow businesses to install special software on their staff's handsets and tablets.

This process has since been changed by Apple.

By the time WireLurker had been discovered, infected Mac apps had already been downloaded more than 300,000 times.

Apple took steps to block the infected apps and reminded users not to install software from third-party app stores.

A Windows version of the malware was also found.

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