When traveling, always practice safe charging with your iOS devices, as a team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have put together a prototype charger capable of installing malware onto an iPhone.
The research, which is to be presented at the Black Hat security conference in late July and was spotted by Forbes, was born out of the idea of creating innocent-looking devices which could be used to hack phones.
Describing their findings as “alarming”, the researchers explain: “Despite the plethora of defense mechanisms in iOS, we successfully injected arbitrary software into current-generation Apple devices running the latest operating system (OS) software… All users are affected, as our approach requires neither a jailbroken device nor user interaction.”
The charger, dubbed Mactans, (another name for the Black Widow spider), uses a small onboard computer to perform its devious duties. It is based on the Texas instruments BeagleBoard, which retails at $45. At this point, the resulting package comes in at three inches square, so it’s noticeably bigger then your average power supply, however it could be squeezed into a smaller form factor if needed.
Thankfully, the details on how it works are few, but the researchers claim the charger can compromise an iOS device in under a minute, and say the malware is persistent and tough to spot.