August 31, 2015 Last Updated 3:44 pm

iPhone hack not a big deal says security software company, but tech sites play it up anyways

It wouldn’t be big news to read of another Android or Windows hack, but that this one involves the iPhone was just too juicy for some tech sites to ignore. The hack, as reported first by Palo Alto Networks, involves iPhones that have been jailbroken.

In the early days of the iPhone, when some of the coolest features users wanted were not allowed or delayed by Apple – features like creating hot spots, for instance – a lot of iPhone owners consider jailbreaking their phones. I did once, knowing I would need an Internet connection while on the road and fearing I wouldn’t find one. But that was a long time ago, probably close to five years ago. Now, only a small number of people jailbreak their iPhones, likely those that have done so for a number of years.

Well, WeipTech and Palo Alto Networks have identified malware that has led to the hacking of 225,000 valid Apple accounts. But the key is that this hack only effects jailbroken iPhones.

“KeyRaider targets jailbroken iOS devices and is distributed through third-party Cydia repositories in China,” Palo Alto Networks reported. “In total, it appears this threat may have impacted users from 18 countries including China, France, Russia, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Israel, Italy, Spain, Singapore, and South Korea.”

Gizmodo, of course, played up the hack with a pretty sensational headline – though to be fair, the story does mention right in the first paragraph that the hack only effects jailbroken phones. That’s better than BGR which waited until the fourth paragraph, and also though a clickbait headline was in order.

The software security firm Tripwire has been sending me quotes lately that I haven’t been able to use, but this time they hit the mark.

“The average iPhone user is not affected by this,” said Tyler Reguly, Manager of Tripwire’s Vulnerability and Exposure Research Team. “It demonstrates the continued use of sensationalism that exists in tech reporting today.”

As for jailbreaking your iPhone, Tripwire obviously thinks thinks it is not worth it today.

“Users may be acutely aware of the limitations that are imposed on the iPhone by Apple, but they might not think through the protections that the Apple eco-system puts in place to prevent this kind of attack,” Tim Erin, Director of IT Security and Risk Strategy at Tripwire said. “Jailbreaking your iPhone delivers increased flexibility, but it comes at a cost. The world outside of Apple’s universe isn’t always so safe.”

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