The Apple iPhone is a magnet for would-be hackers with the hype surrounding it making the iPhone a prize target for hackers and malware writers.

According to a report by InformationWeek , IBM's Internet Security Systems (ISS) division has identified the iPhone as a prime target for hackers. However, they believe it should take a pretty sophisticated hacker to crack the iPhone.

The fact that there's no iPhone software developer's kit available yet for the iPhone means hackers and malware writers will have greater trouble attacking the device. The flip side is that the unprecedented interest will mean a large number of more determined hackers trying.

"They're not telling anyone how to write applications that run on the iPhone," Neel Mehta the team leader at the advanced research group at ISS was reported as saying. With no SDK available for the iPhone, unlike for Symbian or Windows Mobile smartphone operating systems, "it's going to be much harder to write worms or viruses for that platform," Mehta predicted.

iPhone updates and patches

The iPhone will use Apple's OS X operating system, and the ISS group expects it will be quick and easy to update security on the iPhone. Like firmware updates on the iPod, ugrades and patches for the iPhone could be available at the click of a button any time the iPhone is connected to a PC or Mac. Users would typically be expected to do this on a frequent basis to sync the iPhone with iTunes.

However, Mehta warned that security issues with the iPhone could arise from bugs within OS X and the iPhone's Safari browser. These could be carried over from their full desktop versions. Hackers could exploit any holes they know of in the full versions to attack the iPhone.

The complexity of the iPhone and its multi-format, multimedia capabilities could make the iPhone more difficult to secure, Mehta suggested. However, he concluded, "it will take a very sophisticated attack and a very sophisticated hacker to compromise an iPhone...But there will be a lot of people trying."