Feeds

World's first iPhone worm Rickrolls angry fanbois

Hey, jailbreakers: ikee never gonna give you up

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Reducing security risks from open source software

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.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.