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8/28/2008
08:19 PM
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Upcoming iPhone Software Update to Address Security Flaws

A locked iPhone isn't really locked -- not if you're running firmware 2.0.2 (the current version) or earlier. Apply promises to patch a newly discovered security flaw next month.

A locked iPhone isn't really locked -- not if you're running firmware 2.0.2 (the current version) or earlier. Apply promises to patch a newly discovered security flaw next month.A simple trick lets anyone bypass the lock to get access to your address book, Web browser (and your favorites and stored passwords), SMS, and more. The trick was revealed by the Gizmoto Web site yesterday, and it goes like this:

1. Pick up a locked iPhone, press the "Home" button to get to the unlock screen. 2. Tap "Emergency Call." 3. Press the round "Home" button twice.

And voila  you're in the Favorites menu. From there, you can make any phone call, get to Safari, send text messages and more. I tried it on my iPhone 3G, and yes, it's a flaw.

Whoops.

You can easily defeat this flaw, says Gizmoto, by going into Settings, clicking on General, clicking on Home Button, and select "Home." If you do that, double-pressing the "Home" button will just take users back to the unlock screen. (By default, the "Home" button takes you to the Phone Favorites menu, which is the root of the problem.)

Apple has already issued two firmware updates for the iPhone 3G since its launch, essentially replacing all the built-in software on the phone. Get ready for the next one in September, which Apple says will address this particular flaw.

An Apple spokesperson, Jennifer Bowcock, told Macworld, "The minor iPhone security issue which surfaced this week is fixed in a software update which will be released in September." It's up to you to decide if easy access to someone's stored data on a locked phone is a minor flaw or a major one. (I think it's a big deal.)

The previous update, to software 2.0.2, was released on Aug. 18, and was intended to solve widely reported problems with high-speed connections to 3G networks. However, according to the blogosphere, many users still have connectivity problems, and are experiencing other issues with the iPhone 3G and with applications downloaded from the iTunes App Store. Let's see if the next release  probably to be numbered 2.0.3  makes a difference.

Some folks, of course, aren't waiting. InformationWeek says that one customer, Jessica Smith, is suing Apple claiming that the iPhone 3G is much slower than advertised.

Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority in the U.K. has ruled that Apple's ads mislead customers by claiming that the iPhone can surf "all parts of the Internet" without disclosing that it can't handle sites that use Flash or Java. Apple responded that its ads are technically accurate, because the iPhone's browser can indeed reach all those sites, even if it can't display their contents. The ASA wasn't impressed. It ordered Apple to stop running its current iPhone ads in the UK.

Once again: Whoops!

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