Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why the iPhone is a virus platform waiting to happen

The constant mantra of Mac users that they don't get viruses is nauseating to say the least. Everybody knows that the reason they do not get viruses is not for some technical reason that they are invulnerable but simply because it is not worth the virus makers time. There are far more PCs and why target 10% of the market when you have 90% at your service. In fact in the heyday of the virus developers the share was more like 5% to 95%.

The situation is now reversed with the release of the iPhone. They have a lion's share of the market and not only are these devices popular but they are on all day every day and have 24 hour network access regardless. It is a wonderful resource just waiting to be tapped.

The release of a couple of exploits for jail broken phones was just a toe in the water. "But", I hear you say, "Isn't the iPhone supposed to be fully protected against this type of thing?" "This is what was promised us as being the benefit of having all code personally encrypted by Apple." You would have though so but such is not the case. Do you remember my rant against DRM (Digital Rights Management) and Protected Computing? Well, here is the deal. Whatever schemes people dream of to protect data and systems there are about a million people dedicated to circumventing it. Let me give you an inventory.

Games for the PC, C 64, Atari etc in the 1980s - they were all cracked.

DVD copy protection, cracked.

BluRay copy protection - cracked.

GPRS (digital mobile phone) encryption - cracked.

iPhone app encryption - cracked.

Now some guy has managed to create code that will run on any phone and make the phone think that that code came from Apple. Combine this with the recent issue of people inadvertently selecting an in-app add and the fact that every phone comes from the factory with a standard root password the iPhone is the hackers oyster. It is only a matter of time before exploits are as common for the iPhone as they are for the MS Windows PC.

The con that protected computing is there to protect the consumer is merely a ruse to control the user.

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