Reality check: the iPhone text message hack and other phones it could affect

If you own an iPhone, this mornings papers probably made you jump right out of your trendy black polo-neck. The tale of a method for taking over an iP

If you own an iPhone, this mornings papers probably made you jump right out of your trendy black polo-neck.

The tale of a method for taking over an iPhone with just a text message is a unnerving but where does the truth end and baseless fear begin? And is it just iPhone lovers who need to worry? Time for a reality check.

So what the hell is all this fuss about? Is my iPhone going to explode?

Collin Mulliner and Charlie Miller, a pair of clever security experts have uncovered a "serious memory corruption bug" in the iPhone's software which can make it vulnerable to take over.

How would I know if my phone was hacked?

You'd get a single text including consisting of one square character. If you get one at the moment it's probably not the work of a hacker but a mischievous friend. The specifics of the hack seem to be only known to Mulliner and Miller at the moment.

What could a hacker do if they did gain access to my phone?

Lots of things: steal data, make calls, send text messages, essentially anything you can do with your phone.

What would happen if someone did use this exploit against my iPhone?

Miller and Mulliner demonstrated the hack to CNet's Elinor Mills. Mills described it: "Colin Mulliner sent me a text from his phone. One minute I'm talking to Miller and the next minute my phone is dead…after a few seconds it came back to life, but I was not able to make or receive calls until I rebooted [it].  

It says in my copy of Metro that hackers will be able to "hijack every iPhone". Shouldn't I be worried?

Well, in theory hackers could take over every iPhone but that's making a lot of assumptions. Even once they figure out how to exploit the flaw in the software, they'll need to get your phone number and know its an iPhone.

They could create a robo-texting programme that'll send out blanket texts to hundreds of numbers in the hope of hitting some iPhones. But that is still a time consuming process.

That's a lot of steps to jump through before they can become Evil Masterminds lording it over the world of iPhones like Blofeld with a white Macbook in place of that damn cat.

I've not got an iPhone so I'll be alright won't I?

Maybe not. It's been reported that any GSM phone could be compromised with the same text message attack. But don't get too worried – the method is not openly known by hackers yet and carriers are working to patch the hole.

Won't manufacturers fix this?

Yes but they've got a short window to do it. Dwight Silverman, frequent contributor to the This Week In Tech podcast and Houston Chronicle tech writer, reports it'll take about two weeks for hackers to unpick the puzzle Miller and Mulliner have revealed.

Luckily O2 has told the BBC that Apple will release a patch to fix the hole on Saturday. Apple, meanwhile, has kept characteristically schtum about the whole business. Google says its already fixed the flaw for Android OS handsets.

What should I do if I think my phone has been taken over?

The best approach is to switch off your phone. Then contact your network and let them know. But like we said: the threat is largely theoretical at the moment.

Does the threat of getting your phone hacked worry you? Have you been bothered by text message spam in the past?