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Friday, 04 October 2013 07:46

More security flaws in iOS

Written by Nick Farrell



More features bypassed

A German security company has found a bug in Apple’s software which effectively kills off another reason for upgrading. One of the advertised features was "Find My iPhone" which was supposed to protect data on the phone if it was stolen by allowing a user to remotely wipe their personal data.

Berlin's Security Research Labs, known as SRL, said that a vulnerability in Apple’s super-cool, brilliant, wow, beautiful programming would buy criminals time to break into the Apple phones, gain complete control of data, access email accounts and then potentially take over the user's bank accounts. Also the German researchers figured out an easier way to crack the iPhone fingerprint scanner than has been demonstrated thus far.

This is the fifth major security bug in the iPhone and its iOS operating system uncovered since July. "Find My iPhone" lets users log into Apple's iCloud and wipe a device, giving victims a chance to disable the phone before criminals can gain access. It also prevents criminals from registering those devices to another account.

Ben Schlabs, an SRL project manager in biometric security, said that by sticking a stolen phone in "airplane mode" it cut off iCloud's ability to communicate with the device to initiate the features. That bought him time to create a "fake finger" to fool Touch ID.

He created a fingerprint mould using the same approach as Starbug, who took a photo of an iPhone user's fingerprint with a high-resolution camera, printed it out on a plastic sheet, then etched the mould. Once he gained access to the iPhone 5S with the fake finger, he looked up the user's email address. He then went to Apple's website on an ordinary computer and instructed it to send credentials for resetting its password to the account of the phone's owner.

He turned off airplane mode for several seconds: just enough time to retrieve email, but not enough for the "Find My iPhone" feature to disable the device or initiate a wipe.

After resetting the password, he completely owned the phone and all the data on it.

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