Posts Tagged: iPad


12
Apr 16

New Threat Can Auto-Brick Apple Devices

If you use an Apple iPhone, iPad or other iDevice, now would be an excellent time to ensure that the machine is running the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system — version 9.3.1. Failing to do so could expose your devices to automated threats capable of rendering them unresponsive and perhaps forever useless.

Zach Straley demonstrating the fatal Jan. 1, 1970 bug. Don't try this at home!

Zach Straley demonstrating the fatal Jan. 1, 1970 bug. Don’t try this at home!

On Feb. 11, 2016, researcher Zach Straley posted a Youtube video exposing his startling and bizarrely simple discovery: Manually setting the date of your iPhone or iPad all the back to January. 1, 1970 will permanently brick the device (don’t try this at home, or against frenemies!).

Now that Apple has patched the flaw that Straley exploited with his fingers, researchers say they’ve proven how easy it would be to automate the attack over a network, so that potential victims would need only to wander within range of a hostile wireless network to have their pricey Apple devices turned into useless bricks.

Not long after Straley’s video began pulling in millions of views, security researchers Patrick Kelley and Matt Harrigan wondered: Could they automate the exploitation of this oddly severe and destructive date bug? The researchers discovered that indeed they could, armed with only $120 of electronics (not counting the cost of the bricked iDevices), a basic understanding of networking, and a familiarity with the way Apple devices connect to wireless networks.

Apple products like the iPad (and virtually all mass-market wireless devices) are designed to automatically connect to wireless networks they have seen before. They do this with a relatively weak level of authentication: If you connect to a network named “Hotspot” once, going forward your device may automatically connect to any open network that also happens to be called “Hotspot.”

For example, to use Starbuck’s free Wi-Fi service, you’ll have to connect to a network called “attwifi”. But once you’ve done that, you won’t ever have to manually connect to a network called “attwifi” ever again. The next time you visit a Starbucks, just pull out your iPad and the device automagically connects.

From an attacker’s perspective, this is a golden opportunity. Why? He only needs to advertise a fake open network called “attwifi” at a spot where large numbers of computer users are known to congregate. Using specialized hardware to amplify his Wi-Fi signal, he can force many users to connect to his (evil) “attwifi” hotspot. From there, he can attempt to inspect, modify or redirect any network traffic for any iPads or other devices that unwittingly connect to his evil network.

TIME TO DIE

And this is exactly what Kelley and Harrigan say they have done in real-life tests. They realized that iPads and other iDevices constantly check various “network time protocol” (NTP) servers around the globe to sync their internal date and time clocks.

The researchers said they discovered they could build a hostile Wi-Fi network that would force Apple devices to download time and date updates from their own (evil) NTP time server: And to set their internal clocks to one infernal date and time in particular: January 1, 1970.

Harrigan and Kelley named their destructive Wi-Fi network "Phonebreaker."

Harrigan and Kelley named their destructive Wi-Fi test network “Phonebreaker.”

The result? The iPads that were brought within range of the test (evil) network rebooted, and began to slowly self-destruct. It’s not clear why they do this, but here’s one possible explanation: Most applications on an iPad are configured to use security certificates that encrypt data transmitted to and from the user’s device. Those encryption certificates stop working correctly if the system time and date on the user’s mobile is set to a year that predates the certificate’s issuance.

Harrigan and Kelley said this apparently creates havoc with most of the applications built into the iPad and iPhone, and that the ensuing bedlam as applications on the device compete for resources quickly overwhelms the iPad’s computer processing power. So much so that within minutes, they found their test iPad had reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius), as the date and clock settings on the affected devices inexplicably and eerily began counting backwards.

 

Continue reading →


18
Jul 11

Apple’s i-Patches Fix Critical iOS Flaws

Apple has issued a software update that fixes at least three serious security holes in supported versions of its iPhone, iPad, iPod and iPod Touch devices.

The patch targets security weaknesses in the way iOS devices render PDF files. Experts have been warning that attackers could leverage the flaws to install software without warning or permission if users were to merely browse to a malicious site. The update fixes the same vulnerabilities that jailbreakme.com has been using to help people jailbreak Apple’s i-devices.

The Apple update — iOS 4.2.9 or iOS 4.3.4, depending on your device — can be downloaded only from within iTunes. If you are planning to jailbreak your device, visit jailbreakme.com, and then apply the unofficial patch that the Dev-Team released to help jailbreakers protect their phones from further abuse of the vulnerabilities.


18
Aug 10

Apple Patch Catchup

I’ve fallen a bit behind on blog posts about notable security updates (I was counting on August to be the slowest month this year work-wise, but so far it’s actually been the busiest!). Recently, Apple released a series of important patches that I haven’t covered here, so it’s probably easiest to mention them all in one fell swoop.

Continue reading →


8
Aug 10

Foxit Fix for “Jailbreak” PDF Flaw

One of the more interesting developments over the past week has been the debut of jailbreakme.com, a Web site that allows Apple customers to jailbreak their devices merely by visiting the site with their iPhone, iPad or iTouch. Researchers soon learned that the page leverages two previously unknown security vulnerabilities in the PDF reader functionality built into Apple’s iOS4.

Adobe was quick to issue a statement saying that the flaws were in Apple’s software and did not exist in its products. Interestingly, though, this same attack does appear to affect Foxit Reader, a free PDF reader that I often recommend as an alternative to Adobe.

According to an advisory Foxit issued last week, Foxit Reader version 4.1.1.0805 “fixes the crash issue caused by the new iPhone/iPad jailbreak program which can be exploited to inject arbitrary code into a system and execute it there.” If you use Foxit, you grab the update from within the application (“Help,” then “Check for Updates Now”) or from this link.

Obviously, from a security perspective the intriguing aspect of a drive-by type jailbreak is that such an attack could easily be used for more nefarious purposes, such as seeding your iPhone with unwanted software. To be clear, nobody has yet seen any attacks like this, but it’s certainly an area to watch closely. F-Secure has a nice Q&A about the pair of PDF reader flaws that allow this attack, and what they might mean going forward. Apple says it plans to release an update to quash the bugs.

I’m left wondering what to call these sorts of vulnerabilities that quite obviously give users the freedom that jailbreaking their device(s) allows (the ability to run applications that are not approved and vetted by Apple) but that necessarily direct the attention of attackers to very potent vulnerabilities that can be used to target jailbreakers and regular users alike. It’s not quite a “featureability,” which describes an intentional software component that opens up customers to attack even as the vendor insists the feature is a useful, by-design ability rather than a liability.

I came up with a few ideas.

– “Apptack”

– “Jailbait” (I know, I know, but it’s catchy)

– “Freedoom”

Maybe KrebsOnSecurity readers can devise a better term? Sound off in the comments below if you come up with any good ones.

Finally, I should note that while Adobe’s products may not be affected by the above-mentioned flaws, the company said last week that it expects to ship an emergency update on Tuesday to fix at least one critical security hole present in the latest version of Adobe Reader for Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

Adobe said the update will fix a flaw that researcher Charlie Miller revealed (PDF!) at last month’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, but it hinted that the update may also include fixes for other flaws. I’ll have more on those updates when they’re released, which should coincide with one of the largest Microsoft Patch Tuesdays ever: Redmond said last week that it expects to issue at least 14 updates on Tuesday. Update, Aug. 10, 5:06 p.m. ET:Adobe won’t be releasing the Reader update until the week of Aug. 16.


6
May 10

New Software Turns iPad into iSpy

A new commercial software program marketed to employers, parents and suspicious spouses lets customers surreptitiously monitor their Apple iPads remotely and view a record of all e-mail and Web use on the devices.

The software-as-a-service is the latest offering from Jacksonville, Fla. based Retina-X Studios, a company whose  Mobile Spy products have long allowed people to remotely spy on iPhones, Blackberries and other smartphones. For $99.97 a year, customers get access to a Web interface that allows them to view a list of every Web site visited, every e-mail sent and received, as well as any contacts added to the iPad.

Mobile Spy pitches the product thusly:

Are your kids viewing pornography while you are alseep? [sic] Are your employees sending company secrets through their personal email? You will have the answers to all these questions answered. Logs are instantly uploaded and viewable inside your control panel.

The company said in a press release that it plans to roll out even more capabilities for its iPadspy product, such as the ability to record the target’s location (by tapping the built-in GPS), and rifle through photos and notes stored on the device.

I haven’t used the service (I don’t even own an iPad, sadly). But these kinds of services are a good reminder about the importance of physical security for your computers and gadgets: In most cases, once an attacker has physical access to a device, it’s game over.

The software only works on jailbroken iPads, as the iPad is not able to run more than one program at a time unless it’s jailbroken.