It was bound to happen. The first worm has been detected that affects the Apple iPhone. The worm, known as Ikee, really only affects iPhones that are running the Secure Shell utility, where the default password "alpine" has not been changed. Ikee changes the wallpaper on a hijacked phone to a photograph of '80s singer Rick Astley. The worm then seeks out other iPhones to infect.
Experts feel that the worm could be modified to anything from stealing a victim's contact list to downloading sensitive information stored on the phone. This vulnerability is well known. Recently, a Dutch hacker hacked iPhones and started demanding money for instructions on how to patch the exploit. IT Business Edge reported earlier this year that IT departments couldn't monitor what software is running on the phone. This puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to managing the device.
Ikee was written by Ashley Towns, a clever, unemployed programmer from Australia. Apple is reportedly pleased to hear that a worm has been released that exploits modified phones. This drives home what it has been saying about poor security when these devices are modified. In an attempt to limit modifying the iPhone, the new 3GS version is supposed to block the ability to unlock the phone.
Security experts are not sure how far the worm has spread, but everyone understands the potential impact this could have on this widely popular device. In fact, a second iPhone worm has been identified; this one does not appear to make changes to the device, but takes advantage of the same password vulnerability. Granted, these are limited exploits that do little harm and only affect modified phones. But let's look at the bigger picture. I believe that this is the first of many more exploits coming that will have a severe impact on the iPhone community. The worm is out of the bag, and in this case, being the first one isn't a good thing.