updated 04:25 pm EST, Tue November 11, 2008
App bug & iPhone security
A bug revealed within the handling of apps on the iPhone could represent a serious security threat, developers claim. The bug is specifically connected to an image file called "Default.png," which is displayed whenever any app is being loaded on an iPhone. While third-party software is limited to a static version of the graphic, Apple's own apps are able to change the file in order to display items such as the date, or a simulated preview. According to developer Patrick Collison, it is possible to fool the iPhone firmware into thinking third-party code should be allowed access to a dynamic PNG file.
The key issue is said to be that in implementing the hack, the iPhone API could be made to think an app comes from a trusted source, and is thereby allowed to access secure areas of the firmware. By linking this with an arbitrary code attack, an iPhone could in theory be made to do virtually anything, a collection of developers is said to be arguing.
It is further worried that a hacker could implement this strategy while bypassing Apple's App Store screening, which has so far been successful in preventing any serious threats. Although much of Apple's efforts appear to be devoted to perceived intellectual property, the company is also invested in technical aspects, such as bugs and abuse of cellular bandwidth.