Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart

Malicious Charger Could Give Your iPhone an Electronically Transmitted Infection

Someone start building an iCondom app ASAP.
29px iPhone 4 with USB-cabel and charger

Photo: Wikipedia

Everybody knows you shouldn’t get into a car with a stranger. And if hackers can find a way to mimic the work of three Georgia Institute of Technology researchers, you may want to reconsider using a stranger’s iPhone charger, too.

To test iOS security, Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song created a malicious phone charger with the power to hack the iPhone. They’ll unveil the diabolical equipment at the Black Hat security conference from July 31 through Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.

The charger slot on an iPhone doubles as a USB port through which the phone is updated and backed up, so it’s not a huge shock that, er, sticking a foreign object in there could be risky.

The researchers have dubbed the wily wire “Mactans,” which Forbes¬†points out¬†is the species name for the Black Widow spider.

Despite iOS’s abundance of security measures, all iPhones could be affected, regardless of whether they’ve been jailbroken. An attacker could hide software inside the phone in the same way Apple hides its own built-in applications, they say.

Hackers could build a Mactans knockoff to look just like a typical iPhone charger, and malware could be transmitted after just one minute of charging. But the good guys at Georgia Institute of Technology will be recommending digital infection protection measures — perhaps there’s an iCondom app in the works?

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com