Those of you who have been diligent in securing your iOS devices with passcodes, wiping and Find My iPhone, just to have a thief restore your device and keep on going – well – your prayers have been answered. Coming in iOS 7 is a great feature called ‘Activation Lock’.
With Activation Lock enabled, even if your iPhone or iPad is restored to its factory settings, the user will need to activate the device using the Apple ID of the previous user. Also, if the device was put into Lost Mode in Find My iPhone, the lock screen will continue to display the fact that it is lost until the device is activated.
This is a hugely useful feature that, if used properly, will make iPhones and iPads a significantly less attractive target to thieves, as the stolen devices would be rendered useless to them. It was nice to see Apple address one of the main concerns that users have been expressing about the bypass-ability of Find My iPhone. Check out Protecting and Recovering Your iPhone and iPad from Loss and Theft (will be updated soon with this new feature).
Seems like this one has been a long time in the making, but there is finally a jailbreak for any iPhone, iPad or iPod running iOS 6 or 6.1. This jailbreak comes courtesy of a group called evad3rs. The jailbreak can be performed using any computer running Mac OS X, Window or Linux, and is a full un-tethered jailbreak meaning that once jailbroken the device can be rebooted without it needing to be re-jailbroken.
To perform the jailbreak, simply download the software for your OS, plug in your device, launch the evasi0n app and click Jailbreak. It’s pretty much as simple as that! Cult of Mac has a good summary of this process.
Quick warning: I know that many people are eager to jailbreak their devices – sometimes I also get annoyed at the restrictions Apple places on their devices – but remember that when you jailbreak you’re not only running exploit code and trusting a third party not to do anything malicious, but you also make your device less secure in the process!
With that in mind, check out the latest jailbreak at evasi0n.com.
With iOS 6, Apple will be releasing an updated set of web apps on iCloud.com, including Mail, Calendar, Notes, Reminders and Find My iPhone. Find My iPhone is a useful feature that allows you to track or wipe your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch should it get lost or stolen. For more info check out my article on Protecting and Recovering Your iPhone and iPad from Loss and Theft. In this post I just want to point out the changes to Find My iPhone, in particular the new “Lost Mode”. Read more
There have been reports (and here) of iOS 5.1 containing a camera bypass tied to the new camera shortcut on the lock screen. The people who have reported this are sadly confused about the security timeout enforced by iOS’s Require Passcode setting (Settings > General > Passcode Lock > Require Passcode). If your Require Passcode setting is set to anything other than Immediately, then your device (and the camera roll from the camera shortcut) will be accessible for the entire duration of time specified (ie. 1 minute or 5 minutes).
As always, the best setting for Require Passcode is Immediately. That way you know that when you lock your device, it is actually locked, and will prevent someone from gaining access to it without the passcode within the minutes following the ‘lock’.
Sadly people seem all too eager to rush and report on iOS vulns before actually verifying them.
TDLR; There is no lock screen bypass in iOS 5.1 using the new camera shortcut. They were wrong.
I’ve been getting a lot of hits for my article on Protecting and Recovering Your iPhone and iPad from Loss and Theft, and the search queries I’m seeing in my logs, together with the visitor comments, have raised a number of recurring questions. I’ve decided to publish this one-stop-shop of answers for all of the different queries that I see people searching for when they arrive. Although my article addresses a number of these, I wanted to put them all in one post for easy reference. I’ll update this post as new questions crop up. Here goes, in no particular order:
Security researcher Charlie Miller (@0xcharlie) has discovered a significant flaw in iOS which may allow a malicious app on the App Store to download and execute arbitrary unsigned code. What this means for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users is that installing a malicious app may allow an attacker to obtain shell access to your device, and download contacts or images.
Apple reviews every app submitted to the App Store, which has meant that iOS users have not had to worry about outright malware. Since this vulnerability allows the apps to fetch code remotely, they can perform actions not reviewed by the App Store staff. Charlie had submitted a proof-of-concept app that was approved (see video below), but has since been removed by Apple.
Charlie will be presenting the vulnerability in detail at the SysCan conference in Taiwan next week. Apple has already released a developer beta of iOS 5.0.1 which patches the recent iPad Smart Cover lock screen bypass, but I would not be at all surprised if they release another beta which includes a fix for this bug. Until then, be careful to only install apps from developers you trust.
[Update] Apple has kicked Charlie out of the Developer program. At first I felt that this was an extremely bad reaction on Apple’s part. That said, Apple is probably most upset that Charlie’s proof-of-concept app could have been installed by legitimate users. Regardless of Charlie’s intentions, this could constitute malware, and he should have removed the app as soon as he saw the flaw existed. The posting of his video above probably didn’t help matters either.
Marc Gurman at 9to5Mac has discovered a vulnerability on the iPad that allows for a limited bypass of the device’s lockscreen. Anyone with an iPad Smart Cover (or fridge magnet) can gain access to the previously-open app (or the home screen if no app was open).
By holding the power button to bring up the ‘Power Off’ screen, closing the smart cover, re-opening it (or just sliding a fridge magnet along the right-hand side of the device), and clicking cancel, the attacker will be dropped into the screen that was open before the iPad was locked. If the attacker gets dropped into the home screen, then they’ll be able to see the installed apps, but won’t be able to open anything. If Safari or Mail (or any other app) was the open when the device was locked, then the attacker would have access to that app.
Unlike Siri being available from the lock screen, which is not a security flaw (an unintended behaviour), this one actually is; and although an attacker does not get full control of the iPad, the severity depends on whether a sensitive app was being used before the device was locked.
Luckily it is possible to protect yourself against this bug in the interim by disabling Smart Covers in Settings > General > iPad Cover Lock/Unlock > Off. Expect Apple to patch this in iOS 5.0.1. Check out 9to5’s video below for a demonstration:
[Update] Apple did indeed patch this bug in iOS 5.0.1. Those of you who disabled your Smart Covers for security purposes can now re-enable them!
The two latest iOS updates are fairly significant in that they patch two critical vulnerabilities. iOS update 4.3.4 patched a number of bugs including comex’s PDF/FreeType vulnerability used to create the latest JailbreakMe exploit. If you’re a jailbreaker, it’s essential that you run comex’s ‘PDF Patcher 2′ within Cydia, in order to patch the underlying vulnerability. iOS update 4.3.5 released a couple days ago, patches a fairly significant bug in the way iOS validates SSL/TLS certificates. This vulnerability can allow an attacker to intercept and/or modify data protected within an SSL session without the user knowing it. This was possible to due the fact that iOS didn’t validate the basicContstrains parameter of SSL certificates in the chain.
If you’re only an occasional patcher – now is the time.
JailbreakMe.com has been updated to allow easy untethered jailbreak of your iOS devices, just follow the instructions on the site. Thanks to a new PDF exploit from comex (with the help of chpwn), it is now possible to jailbreak iPhones, iPads (including iPad 2) and iPod Touches running iOS 4.3.3 (note this doesn’t yet include any versions below that). During the jailbreak, saurik’s Cydia app store is automatically installed.
Interestingly, users with jailbroken devices can protect themselves by patching the PDF vulnerability by using ‘PDF Patcher 2′ in Cydia. Normal users will have to wait for iOS 4.3.4 from Apple. Note, however, that having a jailbroken iPhone or iPad still makes you slightly more vulnerable to other attacks, as the iOS sandbox is essentially bypassed.
Apple has released an update to their free Find My iPhone offering, which greatly improves the support for tracking devices that are offline at the time. Note that this doesn’t mean you can track an iPhone or iPad that is turned off, or out of signal range (not possible). Instead, if a device is offline when you try to locate it, Apple will later send you an email with its location the next time that device gets back online. Thanks to this, it’s no longer necessary to constantly be checking the Find My iPhone app/webpage. Here is Apple’s summary of the changes:
- When you are unable to locate a device because it is offline, you will receive an email if the device comes online and is located.
- Ability to remove an offline device from the list using the app.
Note, it appears this updated feature is only available using the Find My iPhone app (version 1.2) available in the App Store – it is not yet available in the MobileMe web interface. I assume it won’t be updated until the new iCloud Find My iPhone web interface is launched. [Update: I was right.]
For more information on how to use this great free service to recover your iOS devices, check out Protecting and Recovering Your iPhone and iPad from Loss and Theft.