Watch your back: you could be Rickrolled

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

If you’re worried about health and/or safety issues, I’m your man (woman actually, but it doesn’t sound as good).

I spent the first part of this week at a health and safety course, learning about, well, health and safety. I can now identify hazards and even potential hazards, and I also know what to do with them once I’ve identified them. And it doesn’t involve a Taser.

In honour of my new-found state of safety consciousness, here’s a warning for iPhone users with phones that have been jailbroken. “What’s jailbroken”, I hear you ask (in my overactive imagination, that is. I’m not actually hearing voices).

Any way, I’m glad you – my imaginary friend/reader – asked that imaginary question. Jailbreaking is a process that lets iPhone or iPod Touch users run unofficial codes that bypass Apple’s official App Store. Once a device is jailbroken, users can download applications from all sorts of unofficial places, some of which might be dodgy having not been checked and deemed safe by Apple.

If you’re the type of person to thoroughly research anything before installing, you might be OK, but it’s worth remembering that you have taken away the main layer of protection for your favourite wee gizmo.

However, there are dangers out there. This week an Aussie has claimed credit for a virus that Rickrolls jailbroken phones, and a similar attack last week hit the Netherlands. In that case, the Dutch hacker took over the device and demanded a fee to release the data.

Oh, and my dear imaginary friend/reader, to Rickroll means to chuck in a sneaky picture or video of 80s pop sensation Rick Astley. It started out as a bait-and-switch setup, with the unsuspecting victim clicking on a link that appeared to be something they would be interested in – a joke, free porn or an exciting news story perhaps – only to be diverted to a video of Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up. The joke became so popular that YouTube made every featured video on the front page a Rickroll on April Fool’s Day last year. Whether or not the Rickrolled iPhones are harmed as part of the prank is irrelevant: do you want your poor, innocent little iPhone or iPod Touch being vulnerable?

Before I go, here’s a safety warning for the forklift operators out there. It appears this bloke backed up a little too fast in a warehouse somewhere in Russia. The result, which was caught on video, is nothing short of disastrous.

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