Malicious worm turns iPhones into zombies


The security threat to the iPhone has suddenly become more serious, as a new worm is out which can compromise the device and add it to a botnet.

Regular users don't need to worry too much yet, as just like the Rick Astley' worm Ikee it only affects jail-broken devices.

But if it does get hold of your iPhone, Dutch security researchers XS4ALL said that the worm was capable of stealing data, as well as giving control of it to a Lithuanian botnet command server.

Also like Ikee, the new worm breaks into jail-broken iPhones by using the default root password Alpine'. The researchers reported that it changes this, making it so a criminal could log back in.

The worm also assigns each iPhone a unique ID number, which could get specific devices to work and allows criminals to further investigate the device - very serious if it holds important data.

The worm may also be related to a banking trojan, as it was said to look for mTans, SMS messages used as part of two-factor banking authentication systems.

This is when a bank sends you an SMS when you attempt to login to an online bank account, which has a one-time password you enter to gain access.

Graham Cluley, senior security consultant at Sophos, told IT PRO that this threat could not be considered or called a prank like the Rick Astley worm, although it does appear to be based on the same source code.

"It's clearly designed to hijack computers and steal information from them," he said.

Cluley said it was important to realise that this only affected jail-broken iPhones and people who made a fundamental mistake by not changing the default password when tampering with it.

He said that iPhone was normally a closed and sandboxed device where Apple had control of what applications you could run. But he warned about the potential threat to devices that are more 'open' such as phones running the Android operating system.

"There's always the potential for those kind of attacks from malicious apps written," he said. "But I still [think] we are still a long, long away from malware on smartphones being anything as common as on Windows."