New iPhone hack raises the specter of smartphone viruses

Computer security experts are presenting a new security hole in the Apple (AAPL) iPhone that could be used by malicious hackers to spread a computer virus targeting smartphones.

According to website QuickPWN, cybersecurity researcher Charles Miller discovered an SMS hack six weeks ago and reported it to Apple, which has yet to respond to the threat. Miller and cybersecurity researcher Collin Mulliner will explain their iPhone SMS attack today at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas.

The concern is that once the technique is revealed, it may be used by others with malicious intent. The virus would come in the form of a text message, or SMS message, which stands for short message service. The text will contain a single square character, reports say. If you were to receive such a text, turn off your iPhone by holding down the home and power buttons and slide the red arrow across on the screen, or switch the iPhone into airplane mode.
"This is serious. The only thing you can do to prevent it is turn off your phone," said Miller, according to Reuters. "Someone could pretty quickly take over every iPhone in the world with this."

A virus message would likely come from someone whose number you'd recognize because the attacker would need to know your number in order to access your phone, QuickPWN reported. Once a hacker accesses your phone, he can control it remotely.

Other flaws in the iPhone's security were recently revealed as forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski was able to get beyond the iPhone 3GS's pass code PIN and backup encryption with relative ease, the International Business Times reported today.

This is the first iPhone virus that we're aware of at DailyFinance. If successfully unleashed, it would be a major blow to Apple, which has for years touted its superior security as a major strong point in the battle against Windows machines. As a top selling cell phone since its release two-years ago, a security flaw or series of issues for the iPhone could undermine the trust Apple has built with its customers. Folks at Apple press relations did not return DailyFinance's calls for comment.

Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.

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