Apple rushes out fix to thwart iPhone hackers

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The Independent Tech

Apple is releasing a software update to prevent an embarrassing security glitch that allows hackers to gain control of its popular gadget, the iPhone.

The action is being taken after it emerged that hackers were able to send a malicious text message to an iPhone allowing them to hijack the device and prevent it from being able to make or receive calls.

Sending hundreds of such messages could allow third parties to gain remote control of an iPhone, hackers told a computer security conference.

As a result, the British phone network O2, which has exclusive rights to the device in the UK, announced that a software "patch" – a piece of computer code – would be available for iPhone users to download from Apple's iTunes site from today. Apple, which has sold 21 million of the devices worldwide in the past three years, was unavailable to discuss the issue last night, but its telecoms partner signalled that the US computer giant was concerned by the threat to the iPhone.

On Thursday, two hackers told the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas they could breach the security of the iPhone and other "smart phones" using the Windows Mobile and Google Android operating system with a simple SMS, or text message. Charlie Miller and Collin Mulliner claimed that sending 500 messages to one phone could take away the owner's control of the device.

The security experts came up with the software to exploit the weakness, targeting iPhones on four networks in Germany as well as AT&T in the US. However, they said they believed it would work equally well in any country. They warned that hackers could develop programs to exploit the weakness within a fortnight. "If we don't talk about it, somebody is going to do it silently. The bad guys are going to do it no matter what," said Mr Mulliner.