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iPhone's SMS cracked in 20 seconds at Pwn2Own

updated 07:20 pm EDT, Wed March 24, 2010

Researchers break iPhone's text messaging

TippingPoint Zero-Day Initiative this evening confirmed that the iPhone's SMS database has been compromised at the annual CanSecWest conference's Pwn2Own contest. Zynamics' Vincenzo Iozzo and the University of Luxembourg's Ralf Philipp Weinmann (pictured) used a malicious website in Safari to deliver a payload that could then upload the SMS logs to a remote site. The entire compromise took place in about 20 seconds, although crafting the hack took about two weeks.

The technique notably didn't require breaking any of the sandboxing of the OS, which prevents unsigned code from running on the handset. It may have been rare in the phone world as it may have been the first instance of "return oriented programming" on the ARM chips normally used for phones, according to Zynamics' Thomas Dullien.

The approach could theoretically be used to get access to other data on the phone, such as the music and photos stored on the phone.

As with previous contests, the winners get both a cash prize (this year $15,000) and the device they compromised. TippingPoint will have the sole rights to knowledge about the exploit, but a talk discussing the hack is due on Thursday. Apple will be told the details of the exploit with hopes it will be implemented in a later firmware fix.






by MacNN Staff

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Comments

    Comment buried. Show
  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -39

    Inaccurate sensationalist title.

    They used a malicious "website" to exploit a hole through safari. The fact that they retrieved SMS log information is irrelevant. They did not crack SMS on the iPhone.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -39

    2007, 2008, 2009

    Even in 2009, researchers failed to compromise the iPhone.

  1. MattJeff

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +72

    inaccurate sensationalist "fanboys"

    Fanboys are really annoying and I always see them posting comments on here no matter the evidence. Apple never does anything wrong... right? I have been a mac user from their start and don't see myself ever leaving but I hate fanboys and their "Apple does no wrong attitude". It makes mac users in general look ignorant and arrogant so please stop.

  1. clwilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +9

    Good luck

    with that Matt. Good luck.

  1. MattJeff

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    @clwilla

    ya... I will more ten likely get a thousand thumbs down because fanboys flood these comments but I decided to say something anyways. Just planting a seed of hope I guess.

  1. ravemac.com

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +13

    No details

    The article states visiting a malicious site to deliver the payload, so did they have to 'do' anything or was it just visiting the site? So just reading the site or actually clicking on something? Submitting something? Allowing something? This tells us nothing. Are there any more details?

    Thanks

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Johnny Niles

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -35

    Once again, social engineering

    It was a malicious web site. How do you propose hackers are going to get iPhone users to go to that web site? Asking them nicely?

    This "hack" is 100% dependent on the user going to a specific web site by choice. It's not a hack in any sense of the word. Of course it's good to know about security holes and for Apple to fix them, but this is seriously nothing because the chances of this happening in the real world are practically nonexistent.

    Just like the whole "hacked a Mac in 2 minutes" thing which was completely misleading, this is the same thing. As of yet, nobody has been able to actually hack into a Mac remotely. Getting the user to go to a web site doesn't count, obviously. It's about as likely to happen as the hacker actually showing up at your door and asking to "use your phone for a second".

    But "iPhone cracked!" is more sensationalist and gets more readers, the whole truth be damned.

  1. Darchmare

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +31

    Yes...

    ...this wasn't as bad a security flaw as it could have been, but it's hardly a non-issue. It's not particularly difficult to post raw HTML/Javascript/etc. content to a mainstream web site where iPhone users frequent, and it's not unreasonable to think that people might have sensitive information in their SMS logs.

    Seriously, people, MattJeff is right: It's one thing to be an Apple/Mac/iPhone fan, it's quite another to blindly and instinctively whitewash every single thing that might paint the platform or company in a negative light.

  1. Outdo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +28

    Pleeese

    "It's not a hack in any sense of the word. Of course it's good to know about security holes and for Apple to fix them, but this is seriously nothing because the chances of this happening in the real world are practically nonexistent."

    In the real world sense of the word, a malicious site that can get into an iPhone IS a hack. You can get it, take control and get information out. Security is compromised.

    How many websites are there out in the Internet? How many iPhone users? If they are "spear phishing", then YES they can get people they want to get to a website. Do you really think that all the most visited sites are COMPLETELY freee of all malware? Please!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -60

    BS

    This contest/event is such bullshit. These guys pre-arrange situations and claim they've hacked something.

    Get a life, losers.

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