You know the text message you just sent using your new iPhone? That one about how much of a “power-hungry slave driver” your boss is?
Until Apple releases a patch to correct the issue, you better hope he doesn’t have the same skills as the two European researchers that recently discovered a way to hijack the iPhone.
Vincenzo Iozzo, 22, and Ralf Philipp Weinmann, 32, successfully broke into the iPhone and hacked into the SMS database in about 20 seconds during the Pwn2Own hacking contest. They were even able gain access to messages that had already been deleted. The hacking technique developed by the two researchers, known as an exploit, could have also extracted the phone contact list, the email database, photographs, and iTunes music files on any iPhone.
The iPhone’s sandbox, a security tool that protects the iPhone from being attacked, was able to keep the hackers from bypassing it. But the winning exploit was strong enough to operate without having to break free from the sandbox.
“Apple has pretty good counter-measures but they are clearly not enough,” said Halvar Flake, a security researcher that assisted with the exploit.
Weinmann said that they were able to hone in an a vulnerability in the iPhone’s design. By using the exploit, a hacker is able to have the same user privileges as a non-root user called mobile located in the iPhone sandbox.
“It was a real world exploit against a popular device, ” said Aaron Portnoy, a security researcher from the company sponsoring the Pwn2Own hacking contest, TippingPoint Zero Day Initiative. “They exfiltrated the entire SMS database in about 20 seconds. It was as if a webpage was loading.”
TippingPoint ZDI will report the issue to Apple and will withhold details until a patch to correct the vulnerability is released.
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