The Mighty Eagle is free! Fly away, little bird!

A Russian hacker who goes by ZonD80 has discovered a simple method that makes in-app purchases on the iPhone and iPad free, a potentially huge financial blow to the iOS developers who rely on the paid upgrades as a primary source of income.

The hack is especially worrisome because the process is easy enough to implement that novices could take advantage of it and enable it on their own phones. Your iDevice doesn't even need to be jailbroken in order to use the hack: You just need to download a couple of security certificates from ZonD80's website, change a single setting on your phone or tablet's Wi-Fi connection, and then you're done.

Here's the YouTube video that ZonD80 posted to announce the successful hack, in which he shows off how to acquire an in-app purchase for free:

The Apple blog 9to5Mac has tested it out and confirmed that the hack does indeed work on several of their devices, running Apple OS versions from iOS 3 to the yet-to-be-released iOS 6. The method does not work for in-app purchases for all apps: Apple already provides a receipt verification service for developers that, if enabled, would block ZonD80's hack from being effective. Developers who do not verify store receipts, however, are vulnerable

Apple has been having a rough time on the cyber-security front over the past few weeks, an unaccustomed struggle for a computer company that prides itself on its devices' safety. This week, Java-based malware was found attacking older versions of OS X, Apple's desktop operating system, and last week the company had to boot what was believed to be the first malicious app in the iOS App Store. Apple also recently removed the claim from its website that its computers were immune from viruses, inviting record amounts of schadenfreude from around the Internet.

We've asked Apple to comment on the hack and will update when we hear back. For now, there is some good news for Apple and iOS devs: ZonD80's servers are down, meaning that those who want to install the in-app purchase workaround on their own iPhones and iPads are temporarily out of luck. ZonD80 wrote on his blog that his servers will be restored in "2-3 days."

In the meantime: If your friend all of a sudden has a ton of new colors in Draw Something -- perhaps you'll know why.