iPhone at risk from security flaw

Apple iPhone The PDF exploit currently only exists in theory, although experts say that could change

Related Stories

Security firms are warning of a vulnerability in Apple's iOS for iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Symantec said that it could be exploited by remote attackers to take complete control of a vulnerable device.

Experts said that the threat, at present, only exists on paper but that Apple need to issue a fix before it becomes a reality.

Apple said that the company was aware of the report and was investigating.

The problem lies in the way Apple's Mobile Safari handles Portable Document Format (PDF) files

As the browser automatically opens a PDF, a hacker could embed malicious code into this file.

Graham Cluley, a computer security expert with Sophos, told BBC News that the exploit used the same principle as Jailbreakme - a utility that lets iPhone 4 owners run non-Apple approved applications - although it uses the exploit in a benign way.

"It uses the same tricks as you do when jailbreaking," said Mr Cluley.

"We always thought that Apple's Mobile Safari would be the main vulnerability.

"At present, we have yet to see any of these exploits out in the wild, but it is only a matter of time," he warned.

Jailfixed

In an ironic twist, the only way of preventing Mobile Safari from automatically opening PDF files is by jailbreaking a phone and installing an application, called PDF Loading Warner, that then asks for permission every time the browser tries to open a PDF file.

JailbreakMe screen US authorities declared it was legal for users to jailbreak their phones.

"I personally wouldn't want to jailbreak my phone to get the fix," said Mr Cluley.

He suggested that concerned users may want to switch to an alternative web browser, such as Opera, although he stressed that they had not yet checked these systems for exploits.

"Right now, its all eyes on Apple who we hope are going to fix this problem as soon as possible.

"Historically, Apple have been slow to fix problems on their Mobile browser.

"This has been a concern of ours in the past and continues to be," he added.

In an ironic posting on Twitter, one of the developers behind Jailbreakme - who uses the handle "comex" - speculated: "how long until a fix is released?"

Apple have yet to release a patch that would either prevent Jailbreak from working or close the highlighted security flaw.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Technology stories

RSS

Features

  • NS Savannah, 1962Nuclear dream

    The ship that totally failed to change the world


  • Ed Miliband takes a selfie at a Cambridge hairdressersNo more photo ops?

    Why is Ed Miliband drawing attention to his public image?


  • Espresso cup7 days quiz

    Which city serves the strongest cup of coffee?


  • Glasgow 2014 quaichs and medalsQuaich guide

    What do the Scottish gifts given to Games medallists symbolise?


  • Malaysian plane wreckage in UkraineFlight risk

    How odd is it for three planes to crash in eight days?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.