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Rick roll worm for iPhone users

09 Nov 2009

Some iPhone users in Australia have been on the receiving end of the first in-the-wild virus for Apple’s iPhone, which changes the phone’s background photo to one of 1980s singer Rick Astley, a technique commonly known as Rick rolling.

The virus is named “Ikee” and is thought to have been developed by a 21-year-old in New South Wales who recently tweeted that he is “kinda…worried about legal implications”.

The infection appears to be confined to Australia, but there are unconfirmed reports of the virus in Thailand and Japan.

The virus spreads using SSH, which is pre-installed, but not enabled on the iPhone, but many users who have jailbroken their phones may have SSH enabled as a way of accessing their phones from other computers and devices.

The virus targets phones throughout several large IP ranges belonging to Vodafone Australia, Optus and Telstra. The virus is not explicitly destructive, but iPhone users with jailbroken phones are being urged to by Sophos to change their SSH passwords immediately.

“If you have a jailbroken iPhone, change your SSH passwords now,” said Paul Ducklin, Sophos Head of Technology Asia Pacific. “If you don’t have a jailbroken iPhone, you probably also ought to change those passwords, since it makes no sense to have poor passwords pre-configured for any operating system service, whether it runs by default or not.”

A Dutch hacker recently used the same approach to log in to jailbroken iPhones to put a message on phones asking for 5 Euros and offering to give advice on how to secure the phone against future attacks.