iPhone Hacker Gets Job… With Apple!

26th November 2009

Ashley Towns, a 21 year old from Australia, has landed a job with Apple as a software developer after developing a worm that exploited the iPhone’s vulnerability.

The iPhone is the most popular mobile phone in the world due to it’s slick design and intelligent interface. Apple, the developer of the mobile phenomenon, pride themselves on secure machines and boast that their products rarely or never get viruses. As a Mac owner myself, I’ve never had an issue with a virus, something that Microsoft Windows seem to be riddled with. It’s not a matter of good virus software but simply the way they are designed make it almost impossible to contract a virus.

One would expect that the iPhone would follow suit, inheriting the beautiful, simple, user-friendly interface from the computers. Ashley Towns however, discovered a way of hacking the iPhone.

He found a way of changing the user’s wallpaper, by way of a small coding, so that it shows a picture of Rick Astley. The picture is part of a prank, known as ‘Rick Rolling’ and is often used by people who want to trick users (ie. Youtube watchers, website surfers,) into believing it is something else.

The hack gave iPhone users a real fear. The iPhone is supposed to be invincible so how could a 21 year old hacker from Australia find such a hole in the system?

Luckily, the hack was nothing malicious and was a way of expressing to Apple just how easily this security flaw could be exploited. It could have been very serious however, as it granted the user of the virus full access to the iPhone.

The hack was only implemented on Jailbroken iPhones which is something Apple frowns upon. The Jailbreaking process removes the strict controls that Apple put on an iPhone and grants the user access to over 100 thousand third-party applications.

Ashley Towns was asked to meet with Apple to discuss the hack. Weeks later, after avoiding charges for damages, he was offered a job with Mogeneration, an Australian based iPhone application developer.