First Worm Hits iPhones

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Apple’s iPhone has been hit by its first worm, which sees users backgrounds being forcefully changed to an image of Rick Astley, though it has far shadier implications for the security of those running cracked iPhones.

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According to the BBC’s report on it, the worm is currently spreading across Apple handsets in Australia. As the name worm implies, the program is self propagating, but somehow more interesting than the security risk it represents is the fact that infected devices are so noticeable; the iPhone’s background changes to a shot of Rick Astley and displays the message, “ikee is never gonna give you up.”

For now we’re told that the worm will only infect those iPhones that users have already “jailbroken,” which means that those using the device in the manner specified by the terms of servce (ToS) likely won’t be finding themselves in security trouble anytime soon. For those not in the know, “jailbreaking” is the process by which users run third party applications on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch.

The problem for those who have used third party software to jailbreak their iPhone is that the source code for the worm is now widely available, and as has already been pointed out by security experts and iPhone users alike, that means that the code is readily available for anyone who’d want to do something a little more extreme than just changing the device’s background to an internet meme.

The whole kafuffle stems from the fact that users who jailbreak phones tend not to change the device’s root password after installing SSH (often installed as part of the jailbreaking process). This means that for most devices the default password, “alpine,” will grant full access to the device… which opens all kinds of scary doors in terms of security.

If you’re at all interested, it’s well worth reading the BBC’s article on the iPhone’s first worm, especially for those running a jailbroken iPhone.

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