Previewing a presentation they are planning to give in July at the 2013 Black Hat hacker conference, researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology claim that a corrupted bogus device charger could deliver malicious software onto the operating system of any Apple device, CNET reported
Using the phony charger, the Apple device can be compromised within a minute, using a USB vulnerability to get through Apple's operating system defenses.
"Apple iOS devices are considered by many to be more secure than other mobile offerings," Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang, and Chengyu Song, the researchers behind the findings wrote
. "In evaluating this belief, we investigated the extent to which security threats were considered when performing everyday activities such as charging a device. The results were alarming: despite the plethora of defense mechanisms in iOS, we successfully injected arbitrary software into current-generation Apple devices running the latest operating system (OS) software. All users are affected, as our approach requires neither a jailbroken device nor user interaction."
The trio created their malicious charger on a stripped-down $45 BeagleBoard computer, according to a BBC News report
. The BeagleBoard interacts with the compromised computer through the charger and coordinates the installation of the virus software.
The researchers named their malicious USB charger Mactans, after the black widow spider's Latin designation, according to ExtremeTech
The entire operation takes less than a minute and can impact iPhone, iPad, and current-generation iOS devices.