If you’re trying to save on some money by buying cheap chargers for your iOS device, this might give you pause. According to researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, those cheap knock-off chargers could actually have malicious software that could infect your device.
The findings, which will be presented at the 2013 Black Hat hacker conference to be held on the last week of July, showed that bogus chargers can be corrupted and injected with malware, which could then be used to infect the Apple iOS operating system. It can only take a minute for the device to be corrupted. The chargers take advantage of a USB vulnerability that can bypass the iOS’ defenses.
According to project researchers Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang, and Chengyu Song the impetus for the study came from the fact that Apple iOS has a reputation for being the most secure mobile operating system compared to competitors. The group wanted to investigate the level of threats that are taken into account in the course of doing various daily activities when using the phone, and this includes phone charging. The group’s experiment showed a fatal vulnerability for the iOS. They were able to inject software into current generation Apple devices that arun the latest OS – and it happened regardless of whether the device was jailbroken or not and whether the user interacted with the device or not.
The infecting charger used was cobbled down from a $45 BeagleBoard computer. The BeagleBoard pairs with the computer through the charger and both interact to install the virus software. The group’s USB charger has been called Mactans, a name taken from the black widow spider’s latin name. The whole infection process takes less than a minute and can be done on the iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices.