Posted By oomphhq on November 9th, 2009

The Rick Astley iPhone virus will not affect the vast majority of iPhone users

mogeneration would like to offer some commentary on the Rick Astley virus news stories (The SMH, ABC, that are currently spreading like, well, a virus.

If you bought your phone from a phone company and just use the iPhone to make calls, listen to music, take photos and use apps from the app store then you will NOT be affected by the virus.

The virus only affects jailbroken phones.  Jailbreaking an iPhone is a very conscious decision on the part of the iPhone user. It requires using some desktop software that comes with warning about how your phone may be damaged. Ordinary users will NOT accidentally jailbreak their phones.

Jailbreaking a phone allows the user to have more access to the phone, it removes a level of safety that Apple imposed in order to make the iPhone reliable – most of all to ensure that an application does not disrupt the primary function of the iPhone – to make voice calls. It’s akin to taking the lock off the front door or disabling your cars airbag, you can do without them but they were there for a reason.

So how many people have jailbroken phones in Australia?  mogeneration regularly install analytics in both mogeneration and client apps. Analytics allow the owner of the application to learn about how often the application is used.  The software mogeneration uses can also tell you about the percentage of jailbroken phones.

About 6% of iPhones running the Food Watch NSW app are using jailbroken phones but that’s not the complete picture.  Users of jailbroken phones often have pirated iPhone apps installed, therefore they tend to have more apps installed because it costs them nothing.  Therefore the 6% figure above is higher than the actual number of jailbroken phones in Australia. mogeneration estimate the number of jailbroken Australian iPhones to be 2-3%. mogeneration estimate there are 850,000 Australian iPhones (1.1 million if you include the iPod touch – however the iPod touch will be mostly unaffected by the virus as its not on an open network).   Therefore about 17,000-25,000 Australian iPhones are susceptible to the virus – it’s hard to say what percentage of those will be affected.

With the advent of the app store and the ability to use the iPhone as a wireless modem there are almost no reasons left to jail break your phone, but there are a lot of downsides.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to use your iPhone as Apple designed it.