The Apple app store, hailed as one of the safest places to download mobile applications, has become victim to a malicious app designed to prove it isn’t the impenetrable fortress people thought.
The application, designed by hacker Charlie Miller, appeared to track share prices like many other harmless apps in the market. Instead, InstaStock had the ability to download contacts and photos from a user’s iPhone or iPad.
The app was able to do this by exploiting a change in the operating system used by Apple products which meant apps already installed on a device could be updated with unregulated changes.
The app had been on the market for two months before Miller revealed that it could have malicious consequences. This incident wasn’t the first time he showed the Apple operating system contains flaws. Two years ago, he showed that hackers could remotely control devices using the text messaging system. Miller has now been banned from writing software for Apple apps.
Issues with the operating system raised by Miller are far from the only vulnerabilities in what many see as the safe option; bugs in the newest Apple software iOS5 left users with battery lives of only a few hours in their iPhones and iPads.
The iPhone, once a major status symbol, is no longer the most popular phone internationally. Samsung sold 10 million more smartphones in a three month period than Apple. The Mancunion recently pitted the iPhone 4S against the Samsung Galaxy SII. The Samsung smartphone emerged as the clear winner with the iPhone playing catch up.
With no impressive specifications, increasing security issues and the loss of CEO Steve Jobs, Apple are going to need to come up with something revolutionary to stay in this race.