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iPhone push hack shoves IMs to complete strangers

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A German developer has discovered that sending an AIM message to someone who has both jailbroken their iPhone and installed a hack that enables it to receive push notifications may result in your message being read by anyone else who has installed the push-enabling hack.

Till Schadde, founder of equinux, tells The Reg that he sent a message over AIM using iChat on his Mac - with all relevant security settings enabled, such as SSL - to a friend's iPhone. He did know that this iPhone, which was running iPhone Software 3.0, had been jailbroken and that its owner had installed two hacks to enable push notifications: this one and this one.

Schadde was surprised to hear back not from his friend, but from a total stranger in the US - a person who had also installed the offending hacks. He sent Schadde a screenshot proving that he had, indeed, received the same message that Schadde had sent to his European friend.

Apparently, the hacks - or one of them, at least - install the same iPhone ID on any phone that has been so hacked, resulting in any messages being sent to them by Apple's push services to be also received by other similarly hacked iPhones.

Schadde speculates that the problem is not the fault of AOL (AIM's creator) - representatives of which, in fact, contacted him after a report of the problem first surfaced in CrunchGear.

And although the problem appears only on hacked iPhones, it appears to be rooted in a security flaw in the Apple implementation of the Push notification system, according to Schadde. "There appears to be something hackable in the notification," he said.

Schadde hasn't contacted Apple about the problem - even though, as he says, "I think it's kind of major." After all, he told us, in these days of instant worldwide communication, his discovery is sure to have already been noticed in Cupertino. ®

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