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Embedded scam risk unearthed

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Security shortcomings in the design of Apple's iPhone might make it easier to mount phishing and cross-site scripting attacks.

The iPhone's email client only displays the first few characters of a weblink, a factor researchers at Fortify Software warn makes it easier to hide a fraudulent URL at the end of a link without arousing suspicion.

The mechanism the iPhone uses to link between web browser and telephone functions also makes it easier to embed scam telephone numbers within sites, which a user may be prompted to dial.

Fortify says the security shortcomings of the iPhone mean users are exposed to risk from relatively simple phishing techniques, either by accidentally clicking through to fraudulent websites or unwittingly making expensive premium line calls.

"Without immediate attention, this problem could lead to a deluge of hackers attempting to mimic native iPhone applications and gain access to other personal information such as contacts, photos, and maybe even the phone's physical location," Fortify chief scientist Brian Chess said.

Since the much-hyped release of the iPhone earlier this month, security researchers and white hat hackers have been hard at work attempting to spot security vulnerabilities in Apple's device. Early probing unearthed ways to subvert the device's browser and uncover passwords hiding in Apple software.

Others hackers have been trying to unlock the functionality of the iPhone. Reverse engineer Jon Lech Johansen (DVD Jon) discovered a way to get iPod and Wi-Fi - though not the phone - features of the device working without signing up to AT&T within three days of its release.

The iPhone Development Project claims to have replicated this and has set out a programme of goals, including the ability to unlock the phone and run third party applications on the device. ®

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