iPhone Hacks – Should Apple Have Seen It Coming?

In another article I summarized the series of events that lead to a potentially huge number of iOS devices being overtaken by malicious actors. While increasingly more information about these incidents is revealed, one particularly interesting question should be raised: To what extent is Apple to blame?

Fast Reaction

Let’s start with the good news. As Project Zero researcher Ian Beer writes, they have informed Apple about two of the exploits on February 1st, 2019. Apple reacted within six days and released an emergency update (iOS 12.4.1) on February 7th. This short reaction time is exemplary (especially compared to Microsoft – it recently took them more than 90 days to fix a critical Windows vulnerability reported by Project Zero, which resulted in Google disclosing the vulnerability as previously announced).

Sloppy Quality Assurance?

However, this is where Apple’s exemplary behavior ends. Again according to Ian Beer, Project Zero has identified severe mistakes made by Apple that allowed the attackers to circumvent their security. Since Apple declined to comment on the current issue of exploits, his and his colleagues’ views are taken as the only reliable source of knowledge here.

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11 Answers to the Latest Apple iOS Exploits

11 Answers to the Latest Apple iOS Exploits

On August 29th 2019, the British security researcher Ian Beer (@i41nbeer) from Project Zero at Google published multiple blog posts about a series of iOS exploits. According to their findings, those exploits have been used to completely take over iOS devices. This article provides focused answers to eleven questions about this series of events.

What is the overall impact of this attack?

If

  • you used an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, …) in the last two years and
  • visited a certain hacked site (more on that later)

your device could have potentially been overtaken by the attacker.

Overtaken means?

Complete access to all your data, including

  • All messages (even encrypted ones, even from WhatsApp and iMessage – of course also unencrypted texts)
  • Contacts
  • Passwords (iOS Keychain)
  • Emails
  • Third-Party Application Data (Facebook, Telegram, Skype, …)
  • Locations (via GPS)

What was the attackers’ goal?

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Install Kismet on Ubuntu 19.04 from Source

Install Kismet on Ubuntu 19.04 from Source

Imagine someone watching all your daily activities from hundreds of meters in the distance. While walls can protect you from spy glasses and interested neighbours looking out of their windows, they are no obstacle for electromagnetic radiation. WiFi networks in particular often build the backbone of our homes’ communication infrastructure: when you come home, your phone connects to your WiFi; when you turn on your video gaming console, it connects to your WiFi; when you leave, the WiFi connection to your phone is removed.

There are ways to measure such WiFi activities which require nothing but some cheap pieces of hardware, the right software tools and a little bit of network knowledge. In this post series, I want to investigate this topic, present state of the art tools and ways to set them up and give advice on what can be done to protect against the described invasions of your privacy.

Part 1 explains how to install Kismet – the swiss army knife for network monitoring.

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5 Answers About PHP Phar Exploitation

In August 2018, Sam Thomas discovered a new way to attack PHP applications. This exploitation works by causing the application to unserialize a data structure controlled by the attacker and leads to the execution of arbitrary code on the attacked system.

Specifically, this attacks utilizes the phar:// stream wrapper which allows access to Phar application archives. The underlying problem is that PHP unserializes a Phar archive once it is first accessed by a file operation (e.g., file_exists()).

In this post, I answer five common questions about this new vulnerability and what it means for your application.

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