IPHONE USB CHARGER CAN BE USED TO HACK INTO YOUR IPHONE SAY SECURITY RESEARCHERS

APPLE IPHONES AT RISK VIA SECURITY ISSUE WITH ITS USB IPHONE CHARGER

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Three computer security researchers say they have worked out how to hack into iPhones and iPads through a USB charger.

Chengyu Song and Yeongjin Jang, doctoral students at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, and Billy Lau, a staff researcher at the institute’s college of computing, said they were able to bypass Apple software security and install ”arbitrary software”, including malware, allowing potential attackers to hack in.

“Despite the plethora of defense mechanisms in iOS, we successfully injected arbitrary software into current-generation Apple devices running the latest operating system (OS) software,”¬†reads the description of the researchers’ speech. “All users are affected, as our approach requires neither a jailbroken device nor user interaction.”

The malware is reportedly hard to detect, hiding in the iPhone’s software in the same manner that Apple’s pre-installed apps do. Once the charger is plugged in, it can infect the iPhone in less than one minute.

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The malicious charger uses BeagleBoard, a $US45 open-source hardware single-board computer. The researchers said they chose BeagleBoard to demonstrate the ease of building malicious chargers that look innocent enough to trick most consumers.

The three plan to discuss their work, which the college says was done in the name of enhancing security, at the Black Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas next month.

It’s unclear how serious or widespread the threat is to Apple mobile device users. ”We have notified Apple of the specifics of our work and wish to give the company adequate time to consider our findings,” the college said.

Apple products have had a reputation for less vulnerability to hackers and viruses in the past. This year, the company tightened security to block unauthorised changes to iCloud and iTunes accounts.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution and agencies

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Henry Sapiecha
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