Feeds

World's first iPhone worm Rickrolls angry fanbois

Hey, jailbreakers: ikee never gonna give you up

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

iPhone owners in Australia awoke this weekend to find their devices targeted by self-replicating attacks that display an image of 1980s heart throb Rick Astley that's not easily removed.

The attacks, which researchers say are the world's first iPhone worm in the wild, target jailbroken iPhones that have SSH software installed and keep Apple's default root password of "alpine." In addition to showing a well-coiffed picture of Astley, the new wallpaper displays the message "ikee is never going to give you up," a play on Astley's saccharine addled 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Tricking victims in to inadvertently playing the song has become a popular prank known as Rickrolling.

A review of some of the source code, shows that the malware, once installed, searches the mobile phone network for other vulnerable iPhones and when it finds one, copies itself to them using the the default password and SSH, a Unix application also known as secure shell. People posting to this thread on Australian discussion forum Whirlpool first reported being hit on Friday.

"I foolishly had forgot to change my root and user password last time i had jailbroke my phone," wrote one forum participant. In addition to his own iPhone being attacked, he said a flatmate's iPhone 3G was also sullied with the image of Astley. Users who tried to delete the image were chagrined to find it reappear once they rebooted their device.

The attack is a wakeup call for anyone who takes the time to jailbreak an iPhone. While the hack greatly expands the capabilities of the Apple smartphone, it can also make it more vulnerable. Programs such as OpenSSH, which can only be installed after iPhones have undergone the procedure, can be extremely useful, but if owners haven't bothered to change their root password, the programs also represent a gaping hole waiting to be exploited.

Indeed, a hacker going by the moniker ikee and claiming to be responsible for the worm said here that he wrote the program to bring awareness to the widely followed practice of failing to change the iPhone's password.

"I was quite amazed by the number of people who didn't RTFM and change their default passwords," the unidentified worm writer said. "I admit I probably pissed of [sic] a few people, but it was all in good fun (well ok for me anyway)."

Ikee said the worm disables the SSH daemon so it can't be targeted further.

So far, there are no reports of people outside of Australia getting infected. And the attack appears to do nothing more than Rickroll victims with the Astley wallpaper. But because the writer released source code for four separate variants, it wouldn't be surprising for copycats in other regions to appropriate the attack code and potentially imbue it with more malicious payloads.

Instructions for changing the iPhone's root password are here.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.