Apple Inc said on Friday it has issued a software update to fix a vulnerability that security experts said could allow hackers to take control of the iPhone and use it for identity theft.

The security flaw in Apple's hugely popular smartphone was disclosed Thursday at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, a major forum for exchanging information on computer security threats.

Researchers showed how iPhones could be broken into by sending computer code via the phone's Short Message Service (SMS) system. Mobile phones use SMS to send and receive text messages along with software upgrades.

In a statement, Apple said, we appreciate the information provided to us about SMS vulnerabilities that affect several mobile phone platforms. This morning, less than 24 hours after a demonstration of this exploit, we've issued a free software update that eliminates the vulnerability from the iPhone.

The company added, contrary to what's been reported, no one has been able to take control of the iPhone to gain access to personal information using this exploit.

The software update is available only through Apple's iTunes media management software and will not appear in a computer's software update application, or on the Apple downloads site, the company said in a security alert message.

Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple rose 0.6 percent to $163.75 on Nasdaq late Friday afternoon.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle and Gabriel Madway; Editing by Richard Chang)