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).
In a vulnerability that’s quite similar to one in iOS 4.1 a couple years ago, another lockscreen bypass has been discovered in iOS 6.1 which allows someone with physical access to your iPhone to make calls, view and modify your contacts, send an email to your contacts, listen to your voicemail, and access your photos (by attempting to add one of these to a contact).
The method for this bypass is fairly simple (see the video below for it in action):
- Swipe to unlock and then tap Emergency Call
- Make an emergency call (eg. 112/911) and immediately cancel it (please don’t unnecessarily call the emergency services ;)
- Press the power button twice
- Slide to unlock
- Hold down the power button for a couple seconds and then tap Emergency Call again.
I should point out that this doesn’t seem to work on my iPhone 4 for some reason. Something does happen, but I just get a black screen until I press something whereupon I’m booted back to the lock screen.
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:
When people ask me about the different ways they can protect their iPhone in case it gets lost or stolen, I usually point them in the direction of my article on Protecting and Recovering Your iPhone and iPad from Loss and Theft. I just updated that article to include a tip about creating a custom lockscreen image for your iPhone that may help someone return it to you in the event it gets lost.
A tip is all good and well, but creating such a customised image may be beyond the technical abilities of your average iPhone user, so I hacked together the brand new iPhone Lockscreen Generator!
This free online tool allows anyone to create a customised lockscreen (currently with one of four background images), in less than a minute. Just enter your contact details (first name, alternate contact number), and maybe a short note for whomever finds your iPhone (reward maybe?), click generate, then tap/click on the image to download it. You can do this on your computer, and email yourself the image, or do it directly on your iPhone.
Once downloaded to your iPhone, you can set the image as your lockscreen wallpaper by going into the Photos app, tapping your image, then tap the ‘send to’ icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, select Use as wallpaper > Set > Set Lock Screen.
Don’t forget to share this with your friends! You can even use one of the share links below ;) If you have any feedback or tips, let me know.
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.
Although I haven’t had the chance to play with her myself (does that sound wrong?), Siri seems like an awesome addition to the iPhone. It’s worth pointing out, however, that it is still possible to use Siri when the iPhone is locked – presumably for convenient ease-of-use. Unfortunately this means that anyone with physical access to your phone can access information including contacts, calendar items, SMS/iMessages, and also make calls and send emails or messages from you.
[Update] There have been a whole bunch of people crying about how this is a major security flaw. Just to dispel some of the myth… this is not a security flaw, it’s a design decision that Apple made based on usability. Yes, it’s a default setting that may introduce some vulnerabilities, but then again there are still lots of people who run around without passcodes. To be honest I’m usually the first to secure the hell out of everything, but in this case I feel they made the right decision for two reasons. First, Siri is obviously less useful as a hands-free assistant if you need to unlock your phone every time; and secondly making it easier to use will help drive the adoption of Siri.
Luckily Apple thought of this on at least two levels. First, if you ask Siri to unlock your iPhone she’ll respectfully tell you that she “can’t unlock your phone for you”. Secondly – and this is the important one – it is possible to disable the use of Siri when the iPhone is locked. The option now lives in Settings > General > Passcode Lock, where you can set Siri to Off.
Needless to say (contrary to the screenshot), I recommend setting ‘Require Passcode’ to Immediately, turn Simple Passcode off so you can set a 5-or-more-digit PIN, set ‘Siri’ to off to prevent access when your iPhone is locked, and turn on Erase Data after 10 failed passcode attempts.
Siri is great, but let’s not make it easy for someone to social-engineer her into betraying you. See my other post for more details on protecting your iPhone from loss and theft.
In other news… you can tell Siri to use a specific nickname when talking to you. It’s important to note, however, that the nickname will be put into your VCard. So be careful if you tell her to call you her pimp, and then send someone your contact details ;)
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.