iPhone has hidden 'kill switch'

Apple has confirmed that it has a hidden "kill switch" for the iPhone which can remotely disable any application installed on the handset.

The new version 2.x firmware contains a URL which the device uses to periodically look up a list of blacklisted apps. Any of these applications which are installed on the handset will be disabled, although that list currently contains no applications.

The feature is a safeguard against any applications that are found to contain malware after their approval, claimed Apple.

"Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull," said Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, speaking to the Wall Street Journal.

"Think about it: if you know about a malicious piece of software that invades your privacy, how irresponsible is it to let the application continue to run," asked Jonathan Zdziarski, the security researcher who uncovered the kill switch, although he doesn't rule out other possible uses in the future.

"Either it is an anti-malware solution, and has a switch somewhere to vaporise any app, or it's not an anti-malware solution and is really designed to kill applications that interfere with Apple's business model."

Over $1 million a day is currently being spent at the application store, with a total sale of over 60 million applications.