Feeds

iPhone worms can create mobile botnets

Paranoid, and not just about Android

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

A detailed analysis of the most malign in a recent spate of iPhone worms points to future mobile botnet risks.

The IKee-B (Duh) iPhone worm, released in late November, exploited default root passwords on jailbroken iPhones to turn the smartphones into botnet clients under the control of a server based in Lithuania. The worm affected iPhone users in The Netherlands, and specifically targeted customers of Dutch online bank ING Direct.

Security researchers at SRI International - noted for top notch work in dissecting the Conficker botnet - published an analysis of the iPhone botnet on Monday that warns users of Apple's device and similar smartphones to expect more of the same in future. Warnings about mobile malware have been circulating for years. But it's only since the advent of iPhones and other smartphones, allowing decent internet access with what's essentially a mini-computer, that such risks have become tangible, rather than the stuff of anti-virus vendor PowerPoint slides, SRI warns.

Unlike the previous generation of cell phones that were at their worst susceptible to local Bluetooth hijacking, modern Internet-tethered cellphones are today susceptible to being probed, fingerprinted, and surreptitiously exploited by hackers from anywhere on the internet.

Although the iKee.B botnet discussed here admittedly offers a rather limited growth potential, iKee.B nevertheless provides an interesting proof of concept that much of the functionality we have grown to expect from PC-based botnets can be easily migrated into a lightweight smartphone application. iKee.B demonstrates that a victim holding an iPhone in Australia can be hacked from another iPhone located in Hungary, and forced to exfiltrate its user's private data to a Lithuania C&C server, which may then upload new instructions to steal financial data from the Australian user's online bank account. While it is unclear just how well prepared smartphone users are to this new reality, it is clear that malware developers are preparing for this new reality right now.

SRI's researchers conclude that although the Ikee-B worm is simpler than its PC relatives, it comes with the potential to evolve in something even nastier.

The iKee bot is one of the latest offerings in smartphone malware, in this case targeting jailbroken iPhones. While its implementation is simple in comparison to the latest generation of PC-based malware, its implications demonstrate the potential extension of crimeware to this valuable new frontier of handheld consumer devices.

The analysis, based on reverse engineering of the malicious code, by SRI's researchers can be found here. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.