First iPhone worm caught in the wild

Natalie Apostolou
10 Nov 2009

The world’s first iPhone worm, “ikee” with a Rick Astley twist, has emerged in Australia.

Affected users, many of which are based in Australia, discovered over the weekend that their iPhone wallpaper had been altered to a picture of Rick Astley with the message “ikee is never going to give you up”.

The attacks appear to target jail-broken iPhones that have SSH software installed and keep Apple's default root password of "alpine."

F-Secure Security Labs, senior response manager, Chia Wing Fei, said, “the worm will search for vulnerable iPhones by scanning a handful of IP ranges - most of which are in Australia. At the moment, we have no confirmed reports of Ikee outside of Australia.”

After Ikee infects a phone, it disables the SSH service, preventing re-infection. It is unclear how may devices have been subject to the attack.

F-Secure warns that the creator of the worm has released full source code of the four existing variants of this worm, which means that there will quickly be more variants.

A 21-year-old Australian man, Ashley Towns, said he created the virus to raise awareness about iPhone security.

“When people jailbreak their phone, it allows them to install a service on their phone called SSH. Generally you should always change your password after setting up on the iPhone as all iPhones use the same password. This virus pretty much exploits people's laziness to change their password,” he said.

Towns said he could prove that he created the virus by postings on Twitter made by him under the same name that was in the source code.

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