iPhone Viruses

A lot has happened in the past week with iPhones. First let me explain what “jail breaking” means.

iPhones have some security built-in, courtesy of Apple. This security’s main purpose is to let Apple decide what you can and can’t do with the phone. For example, you can buy and install an approved program, you can’t install a hacked program.

Now there are plenty of people in the world who want to use their iPhones in ways not sanctioned by Apple, such as using it on a non approved network or running non approved programs. So these people remove this layer of security. This is known as “jail breaking”.

Now for a summary of what’s happened recently:

First, there was a practical joke called “rickrolling” – some people found their phone’s wallpaper (background image) changed to a photo of the singer Rick Astley. It was a practical joke, harmless.

How were these phones hacked? Someone wrote a program that looks on the internet for vulnerable iPhones and installs this wallpaper, then the program copies itself to that phone and does the same thing to others. (More details here)

It only affected some jail broken phones. People were told that it’s nothing to worry about.

Then a couple of days later someone else took this idea and wrote a malicious version that works the same way. Again, only some jail broken phones are vulnerable. Except this time instead of being a practical joke it steals personal data.

It connects to a server in Lithuania and lets hackers connect to the phone and do what they want (such as stealing passwords and reading SMS’s). This is bad.

How can you protect your iPhone?

  • Firstly, if you don’t jailbreak your phone you have nothing to worry about.
  • If you do jailbreak your phone you need to change a special password that’s built into the phone. The password is usually “alpine” – you can’t see this password unless you know what you’re doing but it’s there and it needs to be changed. There are instructions here on how to do this.

Summary

An iPhone is a “smartphone”, meaning that it basically works like a computer and it has an internet connection just like a computer. And like computers it can be hacked and can get viruses. Apple goes to a lot of trouble to make sure everything works well (it’s in their best interest to deliver a quality product) so people who go about circumventing the device’s security are taking a great risk.

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