Skip to main content

iOS users beware! Your charger can be used to load malware onto your device

iPhone 5 Lightning chargerJust 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.

Editors' Recommendations

Joshua Pramis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Spending a childhood engrossed in such technologically inspiring television shows like Voltron, Small Wonder, and Power…
I wish I never bought my iPhone 14 Pro
The iPhone 14 Pro Max.

The original iPhone came out in 2007, but I received mine in 2008 as a birthday gift. Not only was it my first iPhone, but it was also my very first Apple product. But my clumsy little self had a case of the butterfingers one day, and I ended up dropping it on concrete — resulting in a shattered screen. This was just a few weeks before the iPhone 3G was coming out, so instead of just getting the screen replaced, I decided I would upgrade my phone instead.

Thus began a new tradition I set for myself — upgrading my iPhone every year. I’ve had at least one iPhone from every generation that has come out so far, with my latest being the iPhone 14 Pro.

Read more
Your iPhone just got a first-of-its-kind security update
Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro held in hand with a wooden gate in the background

Smartphone users should be completely accustomed to getting regular security updates to make sure that their data is protected. Now, Apple is simplifying things by introducing a new way to quickly update iPhone security without needing to push a full-on iOS update.

Apple has been running beta tests of its Rapid Security Responses (RSR) feature that's meant to make security patches easier. As of May 1, RSR has launched for all Apple device owners.

Read more
5 hidden iPhone 14 Pro features you need to use
iPhone 14 Pro in Deep Purple, held in a mans hand.

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro has been out for a while now, and we’re going to be getting the iPhone 15 lineup in several more months. But that doesn’t mean that the iPhone 14 Pro is a bad phone – in fact, it’s still incredibly powerful! You have the fast and snappy A16 Bionic chip that powers it all, the new always-on display, Dynamic Island, 48MP main camera, and more. And since it uses iOS 16, there are plenty of fun software things to check out as well.

But unless you know where to look, you may not be utilizing all of the cool features of the iPhone 14 Pro, or at least making the most out of it. We’ll show you some of the best features that you should be using on your iPhone.
Take photos in full 48MP resolution

Read more