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iPhone Suffers First Worm Attack

Gordon Kelly


iPhone Suffers First Worm Attack

The iPhone is no stranger to viral attacks. Back in August Apple was forced to patch an SMS vulnerability and just this month jailbroken iPhones were locked by a Dutch hacker who demanded five euros to free them. Now a new threat is on the loose: the iPhone has its first worm.

Originating in Australia, antivirus specialist Sophos reports the worm infects handsets and - rather amusingly - changes the user's wallpaper to that of 80s pop horror and Rickroll sensation Rick Astley! It also displays the message "ikee is never going to give you up". To me this sounds far more malevolent than a worm which would simply destroy the phone.

Thankfully - as was previously the case - this latest attack only affects jailbroken iPhones and particularly those with SSH installed and still using the default password ('alpine'). Happily this greatly minimises the audience the worm can target and, funnily enough, it seems the main motivation of the originator of the worm is to bolster public awareness of security. Sophos has discovered within the worm's source code is the message:

"People are stupid, and this is to prove it so. RTRM. its {sic} not thats {sic} hard guys. But hey who cares its {sic} only your bank details at stake."

Clearly it isn't hard - check out that grammar!

More important than this isolated attack however is that it further adds to the trend of iPhone viruses, which in itself is just the first step to a wider attack on all handset platforms. Why now after so little trouble year after year? Well until recently the numerous variations in phone software made the effort to code and distribute a single virus for handsets rather pointless, especially when they only had contact addresses and SMS messages inside.

Nowadays though this picture is rapidly changing. The likes of iPhone OS and BlackBerry OS are becoming increasingly prevalent while the rise of Android across multiple manufacturers suggests hackers will soon have more consistent platforms to target - and just imagine if Windows Mobile 7 turns out to be good! Furthermore, given the content on these handsets now regularly includes emails, browser histories and often password data the bounty has grown considerably.

Antivirus for phones? It has already been tried, but failed because it was ahead of its time. Sadly within a few years I suspect its time will have come...


via Sophos Blog

Hamish Campbell

November 9, 2009, 1:58 pm

Good to see even hackers are commenting their code.


November 9, 2009, 4:34 pm

I know a lot of people don't like Apples control, but here I suppose is a good example were it pays off. Really the heading of this article should have said -> "Jailbroken IPhone suffers first Worm attack".

Now I wonder how Android is going to fair in the future, especially as it apparently more open.


November 9, 2009, 6:02 pm

antivirus would be pretty useless on an iphone because there's no background running lol

@Keith: could be a little like IE and FF open source quicker to patch than from a slow company


November 9, 2009, 7:46 pm

@Jay, That's the whole point, an anti-virus is not needed on the IPhone wasting battery and CPU usage. Yeah, you don't have as much freedom with a locked IPhone, but at least you don't need to worry about getting an Anti-Virus app for it.

Matt G Baish

November 10, 2009, 3:47 pm

@Gordon It's RTFM not RTRM as in your quote :) I'm sure everyone knows what it means (or can easily find out) so I won't elucidate. :P

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