The first iPhone virus, written and distributed by an Australian student claiming he was "bored", is spreading in the wild.
The virus, dubbed the ikee worm, breaks into iPhones and changes their lock screen wallpaper to an image of 1980’s pop star Rick Astley with the message: "ikee is never going to give you up".
However, the virus can only infect users who have jailbroken their iPhones in order to allow them to run applications that have not been approved by Apple.
“The worm, which appears so far to be confined to Australia, is capable of breaking into jailbroken iPhones if their owners have not changed the default password after installing SSH. Once in place, the worm attempts to find other iPhones on the mobile phone network that are similarly vulnerable, and installs itself again,” explains Brett Myroff, CEO of regional Sophos distributor, Sophos South Africa.
The picture of Rick Astley is the first indication that something is wrong with your iPhone. "Fortunately the worm doesn't do anything more malicious than that – it doesn't steal information, access your emails or snoop on your calls. But the source code has been made available on the Internet – meaning other hackers could create more dangerous versions of the worm."
Sophos researchers identified that the worm appears to have been created by a 21-year-old Ashley Towns, a student from Wollongong, New South Wales, discovering his Twitter page where he admitted writing the worm.
Towns, who claims that he created the worm out of boredom, wrote in the worm's code that he found it "stupid" that 26 out of 27 accessible iPhones he tested were vulnerable, as the passwords had not been changed from the default.
“iPhone users around the world should take greater care about their security – especially if they jailbreak their phones. Businesses also need to ensure that staff are not endangering corporate data by running insecure smartphones. Other inquisitive hackers may also be tempted to experiment, and could take adapt the ikee code to have a more sinister payload," Myroff says.
A Sophos survey has revealed that 97% of people believe the iPhone will suffer from further virus attacks in the future.