Sophos Spots Siri Security Loophole In iPhone 4S


Siri, the iPhone 4S digital assistant, needs to be locked down to stop other people sending emails and texts

Apple’s iPhone 4S comes with a digital assistant named Siri, which responds to voice commands and can perform a variety of tasks ranging from scheduling appointments to sending texts. According to one security analyst, however, Siri also comes with a significant, but easy to fix, security loophole.

“I borrowed a passcode-locked iPhone 4S from a colleague here at Sophos and, with his permission, was able to write an email and sent a text message,” Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote in the company’s Naked Security blog. “If I had wanted to I could have meddled with his calendar appointments, too.”

Switch Siri off

Even if the iPhone 4S is locked down, an unauthorised user can apparently still activate Siri with a single button-push and then ask the program to send emails or carry out other tasks.

Cluley added that the issue has a relatively easy fix: access your iPhone 4S settings, head to “Passcode Lock” and make sure Siri is set to “Off”. That way “Siri cannot be used when the smartphone is locked with a passcode”.

The iPhone 4S managed to sell some four million units by the end of its first weekend of release, reaffirming the smartphone franchise’s popularity despite continued competition from the likes of Google Android-based smartphones. During its earnings call, the company reported quarterly sales of more than 17 million iPhones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested on the call that Apple was doing everything to ensure that iPhone 4S supply remained adequate to meet holiday demand. “We’re confident that we will have a large supply,” he said. “I don’t want to predict when supply and demand might balance … I’m confident we will set an all-time record for iPhone this quarter.”

The iPhone 4S resembles the iPhone 4, albeit with major under-the-hood tweaks to its hardware and software. The smartphone also comes preloaded with iOS 5, a significant upgrade of the company’s mobile operating system, in addition to Siri.

As a company, Apple is also dealing with the death of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away the day after the iPhone 4S debuted on 4 October. Under Jobs’ leadership, the company rolled out a line of hit products such as the iPhone, the iPod and the MacBook Air. Cook now has the responsibility of guiding the company forward as it combats Google Android and other competitors for control of the mobility markets.

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