Researchers Charlie Miller and Collin Mulliner claim that they have found a security vulnerability in the iPhone's SMS messaging system which could allow hackers to in theory "take over every iPhone in the world". It occurs regardless of hardware revision or which version of the iPhone OS is running.
They plan to reveal the details of the security hole at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.
Here is the brief description of the security flaw and the risks involved:
"Using a flaw they've found in the iPhone's handling of text messages, the researchers say they'll demonstrate how to send a series of mostly invisible SMS bursts that can give a hacker complete power over any of the smart phone's functions. That includes dialing the phone, visiting Web sites, turning on the device's camera and microphone and, most importantly, sending more text messages to further propagate a mass-gadget hijacking."
The attack was demonstrated on the iPhone of Cnet’s Elinor Mills. This is what she had to say of how this attack works in practice:
“Here’s what happened: While I was talking on the phone to Charlie Miller, his partner, Collin Mulliner, sent me a text message from his phone. One minute I’m talking to Miller and the next minute my phone is dead, and this time it’s not AT&T’s fault. After a few seconds it came back to life, but I was not able to make or receive calls until I rebooted.“
The only thing you can do to stop the attack is to turn off your iPhone quickly.
According to the report, the researches informed Apple about the
security flaw over a month ago but Apple is yet to release a patch to
address the bug.
Miller had also discovered a vulnerability in the original iPhone soon after it was launched. At that time, Apple was prompt in addressing the security hole. They had fixed it in iPhone OS 1.0.1 just two days before Miller was set to reveal the details at that year's Black Hat conference.
Let's hope Apple releases a fix for this one soon. We will let you know if we get any more details.
Update (July 31, 2009):