New iPhone Virus Proves Jailbreaking Not Worth Risk

Dennis Faas's picture

The iPhone has been hit by a virus for the second time this month. And this time the consequences are more significant than an unwanted picture of Rick Astley.

A couple of weeks ago, a worm virus left some users of the iPhone with the image of 80s singer Rick Astley as their wallpaper. The virus only worked on phones which had been jailbroken: that is to say, their owners had altered them so that they could run software without Apple's authorization.

Unfortunately, some of those who did so left the handset prey to a major security breach if they failed to change the default password for getting root privileges (in other words, access to the entire phone's operating system). The virus' creator said he didn't intend to cause any harm and had spread it to highlight the security blunder the users made.

Virus Poses Phishing and Privacy Perils

A new virus, which hasn't yet been named (though some have dubbed it 'Duh'), is more sinister because it attempts to copy and transmit personal details taken from the phone. It appears to have originated in the Netherlands, since it also redirects attempts to visit the online banking site for Dutch bank ING to a bogus page. It's thought this is the first major mobile phone virus created with the intention of stealing money rather than merely causing mayhem. (Source:

At present, it appears there is no cure for this particular virus. The only way to get rid of it is to back up everything on the phone and then use its Restore function to time warp back to the original factory settings.

Unless the user notices the ING redirection, there's no obvious way to tell if a handset has the 'Duh' virus. However, because the virus is constantly running and trying to spread itself to other devices, it may cause a significant reduction in battery life.

Jailbroken Phones at Wireless Scanning Risk

In a separate security risk, a program known as 'iPhone/Privacy.A' has been created with the ability to scan wirelessly for jailbroken iPhones, attempt to access them using the default password, then copy information. The virus runs from a computer rather than being housed on the phones, with the most likely malicious use being hackers installing the software on a display computer in a store to target customers who are carrying an iPhone. (Source:

Security researchers say the lesson here is that the dangers associated with jailbreaking outweigh the benefits. For those who do jailbreak their phones, it's absolutely vital to change the root password, which is set to "alpine" by default.

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