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iPhone SMS Hijack Unveiled At Hackers Conference

Security researchers at the ongoing Black Hat conference have stunned the tech world by disclosing multitude of vulnerabilities in smartphones from various vendors, including Apple’s blockbuster iPhone, which could enable a hacker to execute malicious codes on a victim’s handset.

In a shocking disclosure, security researchers Colin Mulliner and Charlie Miller demonstrated the security hole in iPhone, Android as well as Windows Mobile handsets and, as per the reports, can only be avoided by turning the mobile phones off.

The vulnerability was discovered in the way the iPhone handles text messages, and exposes the handset to hacking attacks. The reported hack would come in the guise of burst of text messages containing a single character.

The security hole, if exploited, could enable hackers to seize complete control over the victim’s handset, and subsequently use the compromised handset to dispense additional spam messages or even install malware application.

Miller said he had already notified Apple’s security team about the vulnerability several weeks ago but hasn’t heard back from them yet. The flaw is the same one he talked about a couple of weeks back, when he asserted he wasn’t certain if it would let him to carry out anything except remotely crash an iPhone.

Citing the gravity of the issue, Miller said, “This is serious. The only thing you can do to prevent it is turn off your phone. Someone could pretty quickly take over every iPhone in the world with this.”

Our Comments

More than 40 million iPhone have been sold worldwide and it is our understanding that other mobile phones could be taken over by criminals using the same technique. Although some could describe the hysteria surrounding the news as nonsensical, it will be interesting to find out how the manufacturers react.

Related Links

Security experts warn of SMS vulnerabilities (opens in new tab)

(V3.co.uk)

Text-Message Exploit Can Hijack Every iPhone, Researchers Say (opens in new tab)

(Wired News)

Hijacking iPhones and other smart devices using SMS (opens in new tab)

(The Register)

Hackers Could Control iPhone With SMS Message (opens in new tab)

(Sky News)

Everybody Panic! The iPhone Has a Vulnerability!0 (opens in new tab)

(PC World)

iPhone vulnerable to hacker attacks: researchers (opens in new tab)

(Reuters)

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.