New iPhone malware spotted

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New iPhone malware spotted

Security firm warns users with jailbroken phones.

Hot on the heels of the ikee worm, a second piece of iPhone-related malware has appeared, which enables hackers to connect to any device that has been jailbroken and still has an unchanged root password.

Jailbreaking is a term used to define iPhones that have been hacked by users to enable software other than that available through the App Store to be installed.

The new malware takes advantage of the same vulnerability in the iPhone as the ikee worm and has been dubbed iPhone/Privacy.A by Mac security software house, Intego, which first discovered its existence.

The company explained on its blog that hackers use the tool by installing it on either their own or compromised third-party Macs, PCs, Unix and Linux-based machines - or even on iPhones themselves.

The program scans networks that are accessible to it and, when it finds a jailbroken iPhone, breaks into it, steals data including email, contacts and music files, and copies them.

Unlike the ikee worm, which indicates its presence by changing the iPhone’s wallpaper, there is no obvious sign that Privacy.A has been installed.

Standard, non-jailbroken, iPhones are not at risk but estimates suggest that between six and eight percent of all such devices are jailbroken.

Intego indicated that it was not possible to protect iPhones from exploitation by the tool at this time and therefore advised users to stick to stock configurations or risk exposing themselves to known vulnerabilities being exploited by code circulating in the wild. The supplier has developed VirusBarrier X5 to detect and eradicate the hacker tool on potential host Macs, however.

The release of Privacy.A comes the day after a poll by security software vendor Sophos indicated that a huge three-quarters of respondents believed that the Australian student who wrote the ikee worm was justified because he helped raised awareness of security issues.

But Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the vendor, was proved right in saying at the time that the move had let the genie out of the bottle, increasing the likelihood of others writing “a far more dangerous version of the worm, which could have a much more dangerous payload”.

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