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iPhone developer hires worm author

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An Australian mobile application developer has hired the creator of the first iPhone worm, Ashley Towns, as a software developer.

Towns, 21, from Wollongong, New South Wales, landed a job with mogeneration, publisher of a children's game called Moo Shake! The creator of the infamous ikee (Rickrolling) worm broke news of his new job via his ikeeex Twitter feed.

The ikee worm developed by Towns and released earlier this month changed the wallpaper of vulnerable, jailbroken iPhones to a picture of Rick Astley.

The code was full of bugs. Early versions of the worm copied over the wallpaper of previous victims before overwriting it with an image of the Astley, for example. Towns is yet to be arrested or charged with any offence over the prank.

The publicity surrounding Towns' worm arguably focused attention on a gaping security hole in jailbroken iPhones, which was subsequently exploited by the far more dangerous Duh worm, which turns compromised devices into mobile botnet drones.

Graham Cluley, senior security consultant at Sophos, expressed disappointment that Towns has seemingly been rewarded for writing malware.

"I don't think virus writers shouldn't be allowed to rehabilitate and do something worthwhile with their lives," Cluley said. "But it jars with me that Towns has shown no regret for what he did, and that now his utterly irresponsible behaviour appears to have been rewarded. Will Towns be offering a token $5 compensation to all those he infected for the inconvenience he caused? I doubt it."

"There are plenty of young coders out there who would not have acted so stupidly, are just as worthy of an opportunity inside a software development company, and are actually quite likely to be better coders than Towns who made a series of blunders with his code," he added. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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