Apple fixes fake iPhone charger vulnerability
Posted on 1 Aug 2013 at 09:37
Most users are still vulnerable to the bug until they receive Apple’s next major software update, iOS 7, this autumn.
Three computer scientists, who alerted Apple to the problem earlier this year, demonstrated the vulnerability at the Black Hat convention this week.
Apple said the issue had been fixed in the latest beta of iOS 7, which has already been released to software developers.
"We would like to thank the researchers for their valuable input," an Apple spokesman said.
The work was done by Billy Lau, a research scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and graduate students Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song.
Snooping and stealing
In a demonstration at the hacking conference, they plugged an iPhone into a custom-built charger they equipped with a tiny Linux computer that was programmed to attack iOS devices. They said it cost about $45 to buy and a week to design.
It infected the phone with a virus designed to dial the phone of one of the researchers, which it did.
They said that real-world cyber criminals might build viruses that would give them remote control of the devices. That would enable them to take screen shots for stealing banking passwords and credit card numbers. They could also access emails, texts and contact information or track the location of the phone's owner, Lau said.
"It can become a spying tool," said Lau. Lau said his team was publicising the issue in the spirit of "white hat" hacking.
"Security doesn't work if you bury problems," he told Reuters.
Lau said that devices running Android are not vulnerable to the same types of attack because they warn users if they plug devices into a computer, even one posing as a charging station.
After Apple's iOS 7 software update, a message will pop up to alert the user that they are connecting to a computer, not an ordinary charger, he said.
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Please stop reposting fake Facebook messages
- Is Facebook safe for business?
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Facebook Graph Search: don't panic
- Gmail drafts and Pastebin: could they evade the email snoops?
- Applying for a job at GCHQ? Here's your plain-text password
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Yes, I write down my passwords