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How to Protect yourself from the iPhone Virus

Written By Hans Berger on Thursday, July 30, 2009 | 6:30 AM

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Want to protect yourself from the iPhone SMS virus? Apple has not released an iPhone 3.1 update yet, and I have no idea when they will be doing so. I iPhone SMS Patchcould turn off my iPhone and keep it safe, but I'd rather keep it on! I've figured out a way to disable the SMS App, but I'm not sure whether or not this will still prevent the virus. Read on below to find out how you can do the same.

How to disable the SMS App



  1. Jailbreak your iPhone using either redsn0w or purplera1n

  2. Go to Cydia, search for OpenSSH and install it

  3. Download an SSH client (WinSCP for Windows users and Cyberduck for Mac)

  4. Make sure WiFi is turned on, go to Settings -> WiFi. Select your network and check your iPhone's IP. SSH in to your iPhone using the iPhone's IP. Login with the Username: root and Password: alpine.

  5. Navigate to the Applications directory

  6. Locate the directory named MobileSMS.app. Right-click and click on properties. Where it says Permissions uncheck all the options.

  7. Click OK.

  8. To test if you did this right, tap the SMS app on your iPhone and it should crash when you launch it!

Once you've followed the steps above, the SMS app stops working. I'm keeping my iPhone like this until Apple releases a firmware update, or until Chronic Dev Team is able to release a patch before Apple does. If you want your SMS app back at any time you can fix it by following Step 6 and setting the permissions back to 0755.

Warning: Do not attempt to do this tutorial if you're not sure how to SSH or change file permissions! Wait for Apple's firmware update.

I'll update the site once a firmware update or a real patch is released.

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+ comments + 27 comments

July 30, 2009 at 7:33 AM

Could the same thing be achieved by setting the parental controls to disable SMS? Much easier and wouldn't require a jailbreak.

Just a thought.

Shabz_de_don
July 30, 2009 at 7:33 AM

Dude I text alot, so that means I won't be able to text or recieve anything?!?!

iPhoneUser
July 30, 2009 at 8:13 AM

This is a bit of a daft fix.. hold on, i must remember to turn off my SMS on my PHONE

prostovanka
July 30, 2009 at 9:15 AM

There is no Parental Control Option for SMS

BetaBuster
July 30, 2009 at 9:21 AM

Does this affect the latest 3.1 beta?

iPhoneHK
July 30, 2009 at 9:23 AM

does this only apply on the default SMS app? I use iRealSMS - would it affect that too?

Mr_Security_Man
July 30, 2009 at 9:39 AM

Also, the attack described at Black Hat wouldn't necessarily be stopped by this 'fix' since it's pretty low level. Just breaking the SMS app prevents you from sending or viewing text messages, but doesn't stop the phone from receiving them at the modem level.

You can probably disable SMS to your phone at AT&T's web site if you're that worried, though the attack as described would just require you to reboot your phone and sounds more annoying than deadly.

Sure, it might turn into code execution later, these things often do, which is why it needs patching. But panicking and breaking apps on your phone is, indeed, as another commenter put it, "Daft."

Billy
July 30, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Ya I say screw it! Let em try and take our phones over!! Uber FAIL

QJ
July 30, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Will the iPhone get rid of the virus if I restored the firmware?

evoyuin
July 30, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Is the factory setting for the MobileSMS.app 0755 or 0775? This tutorial worked, but I forgot to look at the factory number.

evoyuin
July 30, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Mr_security_man, I totally agree with what your saying, but I think if this attack cannot access sms, it won't be able to control the phone if they do not establish a connection. But I'm just guessing. And as for rebooting everytime, I think it would be extremely annoying, though, I wonder if they can establish a connection once the phone is turned off.

Sciizerg
July 30, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Just install an app called mcleaner or iblacklist. This will block unknown numbers. You should be safe. :)

Kamal
July 30, 2009 at 2:46 PM

I use mcleaner as a filter, would that help protect me for now??

luke
July 30, 2009 at 3:07 PM

mcleanr and iblacklist dont stop sms from recieving. sms recieves through the modem and then iblacklist will check if its a known number. so if u install those u will be less aware that u have the virius lol

Louis
July 30, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Im hoping the dev team create a patch first, apple will then realise they made a mistake trying to get rid of jailbreak.
They restricted the iphone so much, they must be embarrased knowing a virus was caused by the core iphone and not the jailbreak software.

July 30, 2009 at 6:33 PM

This gives Apple the perfect opportunity to release a patch and upgrade of firmware to stop future jailbreaks. As we are all aware we have been "advised" not to upgrade to 3.1 as apple are trying to stop jailbreaking, now everyone will HAVE to patch in order to remain safe.

Lets just hope the DEV team feel strongly about this as they do jailbreaking, and lets hope they can come up with a fix for this without us having to upgrade using apples locked firmware.

DigitalChaos
July 30, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Wow. Please pull this crap down before you make "the jailbreak community" look like a bunch of idiots and give Apple a reason to point their finger. Have you even tested this to verify that it works? There is no reason that disabling an app is going stop the underlying system from receiving SMS. This is just dumb and plain unsafe because it promotes a false sense of security for people who don't know anymore.
Again, please take this down immediately so that people who release a *real* patch will be taken seriously if it happens. This is not what I want to see the jail break community turn into.

Dr zaid
July 30, 2009 at 9:33 PM

The moron who released the virus is the one who should be blamed.
Apples refusal to take this seriously is expected from a stubborn greedy policy but no justification to those creating viruses, stealing other peoples calls and credits.
So personally, the virus creature can go F_ck himself.
Typical society reject living in the garage I guess.
I will never let such scum affect my life.
Keep messages on. Stop this fear.
Enjoy things to the full.

Skyline_v35
July 31, 2009 at 4:24 AM

What if no other iPhone users have my number. If they can only do this to iPhones. I should be pretty safe. Right?

Scarzio
July 31, 2009 at 4:28 AM

This sounds stupid but would turning off your texting plan with your carrier help prevent the virus? (turn off texting as in not allow to receive or send any text)

SD5150
July 31, 2009 at 5:23 AM

You can still upgrade and jailbreak on 3.1, its just the unlock that will be a problem, so if Apple does release a patch in 3.1 it still would be possible to upgrade and keep the jailbreak. Of course we don't know for sure until 3.1 is out....

July 31, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Patch is out!

Trepsul
July 31, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Any other methods to set permissions? For some reason SSH doesn't work here.

Trepsul
July 31, 2009 at 11:48 AM

had to look around, apparently use Mobile Finder from Cydia then go MobileSMS.app and click on it, click Modify then under Owner, Group and Everyone turn Read, Write Exec OFF for each ( 9 total) . I hope this is right, someone please confirm. After doing this, while clicking on the SMS App, it goes back to front screen. Anyone?

Sraj
July 31, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Fredz it doesnt to work coz even closing sms app i m recieving sms my notification saw d messages are still coming n after changing permission to 755 i saw messages r in d inbox so it will not work in my views

Paul
July 31, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Attention iPhone users: This will NOT fix the problem. All this does is inconvenience you while providing no protection at all.

Trepsul
August 1, 2009 at 5:16 AM

Sraj and Paul seem to be right: All this does is to prevent the opening or displaying the SMS message after you 'slide to unlock' for example or when you're notified of a new SMS.

When the MobileSMS.app is "modified" and message is not displayed, it's still going to the inbox. After un-"modifying" it and enabling Airplane Mode ON, restarting the iPhone and going to SMS there's a new message notification and inside the Inbox there's the message already downloaded.

I guess this is useless since the "virus" is not activated when you open the SMS message but once it gets inside the Inbox, right?

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