Three-quarters of respondents to a recent online poll believe that the Australian student who wrote the first Apple iPhone worm was justified because he helped raised awareness of security issues.
The software, which is now available for anyone to download, has spread rapidly around Australia changing device-based wallpaper into an image of the 1980s pop star Rick Astley.
Every infected phone also consumes each user’s data transfer allowance as it replicates itself elsewhere, potentially leading to large bills at the end of the month.
But the research undertaken by security software firm Sophos, which garnered 721 responses, found that 76 per cent answered yes to the statement: "He’s done iPhone users a favour. This was an acceptable way to raise awareness of poor security".
A further 10 per cent believed that the 21-year-old student had acted recklessly and that the end does not justify the means, while another 15 per cent hoped that he would be investigated by the police.
“Has the world gone completely bonkers? It’s a depressing notion that most people think that doing harm and breaking computer crime laws is a good thing,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the vendor.
Not only will iPhone users need to repair the damage caused by the worm, but the fact that the “genie is let out of the bottle” means that it raises the spectre of others writing a more dangerous version of the worm, "which could have a much more dangerous payload”, Cluley added.
Cluley said there were signs that such an attack might not be that far away. When analysing raw search statistics for the Sophos web site, Cluley found that the key search terms were not "Rick Astley" or "Rickrolling" as might be expected. Instead they referred to the name of the worm itself – "ikee" and " ikee source code".
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