iPhone and iPad security: 4 tips to stay safe

Are you worried about all the ruckus over the Jailbreakme.com 3.0 vulnerability for your iPhone and iPad? While you're waiting for Apple to come out with a fix, there are a few safety precautions you can take.

To recap: Exposed to the public on Wednesday by the iOS hacking group Dev-Team, Jailbreakme.com 3.0 offers a simple way to jailbreak iPhones. Users can click on the app-like icon and 20 seconds later you've got a jailbroken phone, which allows you to run non-Apple approved apps.

Jailbreakme.com 3.0 exploits a vulnerability in the PDF reader. The iOS Safari browser downloads a PDF file that triggers a vulnerability in how the built-in PDF reader handles a certain font type. "This is what installs the actual jailbreak," explains Stephan Chenette, manager of security research at Websense, a content security company.

So why is it so dangerous? An attacker can reverse engineer Jailbreakme.com 3.0 to silently install malicious code through the browser or email attachment. "Then the attacker could gain full control of the iPhone, iPad or other iOS device and install everything from a keylogger to a full-blown bot," Chenette says. "This isn't just limited to iPhones; iPad users need to be on the lookout, too."

Apple responded on Thursday that it is developing a fix for vulnerabilities on iOS 4. Critics have complained that Apple has been slow to respond to security problems, so Apple's quick response to Jailbreakme.com 3.0 underscores the severity of the vulnerability.

While you're waiting for the fix, Chenette offers four tips to keep your iPhones and iPads safe:

1. First and foremost, do not download or open files from untrusted Web sites.

2. Do not click on links from unknown or untrusted Web sites or suspicious links from trusted sources (including sites like Google Search).

3. Do not open email attachments from unknown or suspicious emails from trusted sources. Your friend's email account may have been hacked.

4. As soon as Apple issues a patch, apply it! Many consumers don't patch regularly or do so after it's too late.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkanshige@cio.com

Read more about mobile security in CIO's Mobile security Drilldown.

This story, "iPhone and iPad security: 4 tips to stay safe" was originally published by CIO.

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