It's okay - before you start tapping away at your beloved iPhone in a frenzied panic, you should know that it's incredibly unlikely that anyone is about to hack your handset, and we that can tell you how to protect yourself just in case.
Mobile security company Skycure has claimed that it's found a vulnerability in Apple's iOS 8 operating system that could allow a well informed hacker to "break" all iPhones within a certain location.
The 'No iOS Zone' break works by setting up an unprotected wireless router with a "specific configuration" (which Skycure doens't share, understandably). Should any unwitting iPhone user connect to this router, a hacker can output a bug with a secure data file known as an SSL certificate. Once a connection is secured, the hacker can then cause the iOS to crash every time the user attempts to open the app - as shown in the following video.
In isolation, the bug is an annoying quirk rather than a malicious hack: no information can be taken from a user's phone, it simply stops their apps from working. However, Skycure takes things up a paranoia notch by contemplating what could happen if someone combined the 'No iPhone Zone' exploitation with a bug they had previously documented, known as WiFiGate, it could be "catastrophic".
In short, WiFiGate was an exploit that would allow a hacker to create a wireless network that could force nearby devices to join it. If a hacker were to combine this tactic with the 'No iPhone Zone' bug they could in theory knock out all iPhones in range of their malicious wireless network. Again - annoying, but no secure data would be transferred. In built up areas, Skycure believes it could have a more unfortunate impact.
Skycure provides the following guidelines on how to avoid the issue, and what you should do if you fear you're being hacked:
1. Users should disconnect from the bad Wi-Fi network or change their location in case they experience continuous crashing or rebooting.
2. The latest iOS 8.3 update might have fixed a few of the mentioned threats–users are highly advised to upgrade to the latest version.
3. In general, users should avoid connecting to any suspicious “FREE” Wi-Fi network.