Feeds

Apple's iPhone: theoretical risks of unreleased handset

Symantec stokes Apple hype engine

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Apple's iPhone is unlikely to become a gateway device for mobile malware, Symantec says. The handset will run an operating system based on Mac OS X, thus opening the possibility that the small number of viruse targeting the platform might be re-purposed to infect iPhone.

However, Concerns about possible mobile infestation of iPhones are "premature" at worst according to Eric Chien, an anti-virus researcher at Symantec.

For one thing the iPhone will be locked down so that consumers will be able to install only selected third party applications. While not dismissing the possibility that iPhone-specific malware could be created, Chien reckons it won't reach the levels currently seen with smart phones running Symbian OS. Nonetheless, vulnerabilities in Mac OS X could create future problems, he warns.

"The likely vectors of infection will be via any vulnerabilities on the device that allow code to execute. Unfortunately, just a single malware writer taking advantage of a single vulnerability could cause havoc, but for the most part such attacks will be limited," he writes.

"If the iPhone remains a closed device with not even Java applications or widgets let alone native code, the risk of infection becomes orders of magnitude lower."

Even though the iPhone is "locked down", interest in the technology is likely to spur the creation of home-brew hacks. The motives of these users is simply to run their own code on the phone, but the techniques pioneered by tech enthusiasts might be re-purposed for more malign purposes.

"Once they install and execute unknown code on their device, there is always a chance of executing malicious code. This scenario happened in the past with the Sony PSP and PSPBrick Trojan," Chien notes.

A mono-culture of devices running the same OS, knowledge among hackers about how software on the device works have been factors driving the creation of numerous items of malware on Windows PCs and the reason why mobile malware, despite considerable hype from some quarters, has been mercifully rare. Chien concludes that this is unlikely to change much with the arrival of iPhones later this year.

His analysis is published on Symantec's security blog here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
Ofcom tackles complaint over Premier League footie TV rights
Virgin Media: UK fans pay the most for the fewest matches
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.