Just when you thought it was safe to borrow an iPhone charger from a complete stranger, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have discovered a way to bypass Apple security using one, according to Tech News World.
Billy Lau, a research scientist who lead the team of students working on the project, said that, after loading the malware onto the charger, it took less than a minute to compromise the security of the iOS device, regardless of whether or not it was jailbroken or if the user even took any action on the phone.
Like Lau pointed out, most iOS users tend to feel that their devices are impenetrable, as far as viruses are concerned, so few are likely to actually install any antivirus software, opening them up to an onslaught from hackers who, guaranteed, are very well aware of this knowledge.
The finding will be presented in great depth at this year’s Black Hat USA 2013, which takes place in Las Vegas from July 27 through August 1. They will discuss Mactans, the name they’ve given the hacked chargers, and how they work.
Essentially, after bypassing the iPhone’s security software, the virus mimics the same approach Apple’s built-in software works, hiding in the background, virtually undetectable, but still fully running. They’ll also discuss what a well-funded group of hackers could do with this vulnerability; Lau pointed out that his team was under both time and financial restrictions.
Just how big is this potential threat? At first glance, it may seem as though it’s not really that big a deal. Just use your own charger and be done with it. However, consider the rise in the “bring your own device” concept many businesses are starting to implement among their employees, coupled with the U.S. military’s recent decision to approve iOS devices for official use. It doesn’t cost that much to build a charger that looks exactly like Apple’s charger; all it would take is a quick switch. Whether one infected phone could spread the virus to others on the same network, Lau did not comment on, but hopefully will comment on at next month’s event.
For now, everyday Joes probably don’t really need to worry about this. But for all you high profile peeps … don’t leave your charger at home.