Horror iPhone hack spies on you even if mobile is switched OFF
A NASTY piece of malware that runs even when your iPhone is switched off has been invented by researchers in Germany.
The virus was created as a proof of concept and exposes an overlooked security issue with Apple's popular mobiles.
It means that shutting down your device when you spot signs of a break-in is not guaranteed to stop the attackers in their tracks.
Experts at the Technical University of Darmstadt explained how their exploit worked in a paper published last week.
When your iPhone is powered down, it continues to run its Bluetooth microchip to help you track your gadget if it's been misplaced.
This feature is possible through Apple's Find My app and was introduced last year with the rollout of iOS 15.
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But while the tool may prove handy for the absent-minded, it could expose your beloved handset to hackers.
That's because it allows malware to run in the background when your device is otherwise out of action.
"Since iOS 15, iPhones remain locatable by Bluetooth after power off," researchers said in a video explaining the exploit.
"Standalone firmware keeps running on the Bluetooth chip while the main processor is off.
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"The firmware has no protection against modification. Attackers can run Bluetooth malware even after shutdown."
The researchers said that the malware is theoretical, and they have not released details on how to create it.
If cyber crooks were to build it themselves, it would allow the attacker to track a phone's location when the device is switched off.
The research is the first to expose the risks posed by microchips running in low-power mode.
"The current LPM implementation on Apple iPhones is opaque and adds new threats," the researchers wrote in a paper.
"Since LPM support is based on the iPhone’s hardware, it cannot be removed with system updates.
"Thus, it has a long-lasting effect on the overall iOS security model.
"To the best of our knowledge, we are the first who looked into undocumented LPM features introduced in iOS 15 and uncover various issues."
The results have little real-world value, as an iPhone needs to be jailbroken in order to be infected with the malware.
Jailbreaking is a process that replaces Apple's iOS operating system with custom software. It is banned by Apple.
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A paper describing the findings will be presented at the 15th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks.
The convention is running from May 16 to May 19 in San Antonio, Texas.
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