The Georgia Institute of Technology is notable for its tech department, and likely in the future notable for Apple refusing to donate to it. Researchers there have just discovered how to hack the iPhone with a charger, in the process revealing a huge security weakness in the device.
In fact the results are pretty disturbing, as the research team found that the charger pretty much gets past every single security measure Apple has in place:
In this presentation, we demonstrate how an iOS device can be compromised within one minute of being plugged into a malicious charger… To ensure persistence of the resulting infection, we show how an attacker can hide their software in the same way Apple hides its own built-in applications.
Just to rub it in, while the malicious charger is larger than average, it’s based on a dirt-cheap computer called a BeagleBoard. If the concept sounds familiar, this isn’t the first time that a lot of dangerous material has been squeezed into a power source. If you’ve got $1500 or so lying around, you can buy a fully operational hacking device that looks just like, and works just like, a conventional power strip. It’ll even take commands via text message.
Apple has yet to weigh in on what amounts to a fairly nasty security vulnerability, but hopefully it will manage to address it sooner rather than later. Also left unanswered is whether Android phones have the same security vulnerability. Until there are answers, or an update, you might want to keep a more careful eye on your charger. Or install Fishbowl.