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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: iPhone hacking

Researchers Find Potential Way to Run Malware on iPhone Even When it's OFF

Researchers Find Potential Way to Run Malware on iPhone Even When it's OFF
May 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A first-of-its-kind security analysis of iOS Find My function has identified a novel attack surface that makes it possible to tamper with the firmware and load malware onto a Bluetooth chip that's executed while an iPhone is "off." The mechanism takes advantage of the fact that wireless chips related to Bluetooth, Near-field communication ( NFC ), and ultra-wideband ( UWB ) continue to operate while iOS is shut down when entering a "power reserve" Low Power Mode (LPM). While this is done so as to enable features like  Find My  and facilitate  Express Card transactions , all the three wireless chips have direct access to the secure element, academics from the Secure Mobile Networking Lab ( SEEMOO ) at the Technical University of Darmstadt  said  in a paper entitled "Evil Never Sleeps." "The Bluetooth and UWB chips are hardwired to the Secure Element (SE) in the NFC chip, storing secrets that should be available in LPM," the researchers sa

Apple Issues Patches for 2 Actively Exploited Zero-Days in iPhone, iPad and Mac Devices

Apple Issues Patches for 2 Actively Exploited Zero-Days in iPhone, iPad and Mac Devices
March 31, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Thursday rolled out emergency patches to address two zero-day flaws in its  mobile  and  desktop operating systems  that it said may have been exploited in the wild. The shortcomings have been fixed as part of updates to iOS and iPadOS 15.4.1, macOS Monterey 12.3.1, tvOS 15.4.1, and watchOS 8.5.1. Both the vulnerabilities have been reported to Apple anonymously. Tracked as  CVE-2022-22675 , the issue has been described as an  out-of-bounds write  vulnerability in an audio and video decoding component called AppleAVD that could allow an application to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Apple said the defect was resolved with improved bounds checking, adding it's aware that "this issue may have been actively exploited." The latest version of macOS Monterey, besides fixing CVE-2022-22675, also includes remediation for  CVE-2022-22674 , an  out-of-bounds read  issue in the Intel Graphics Driver module that could enable a malicious actor to read kern

Another Israeli Firm, QuaDream, Caught Weaponizing iPhone Bug for Spyware

Another Israeli Firm, QuaDream, Caught Weaponizing iPhone Bug for Spyware
February 04, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A now-patched security vulnerability in Apple iOS that was previously found to be exploited by Israeli company NSO Group was also separately weaponized by a different surveillance vendor named QuaDream to hack into the company's devices. The development was reported by  Reuters , citing unnamed sources, noting that "the two rival businesses gained the same ability last year to remotely break into iPhones [and] compromise Apple phones without an owner needing to open a malicious link." The zero-click exploit in question is  FORCEDENTRY , a flaw in iMessage that could be leveraged to  circumvent iOS security protections  and install spyware that allowed attackers to scoop up a wealth of information such as contacts, emails, files, messages, and photos, as well as access to the phone's camera and microphone. Google Project Zero, which studies zero-day vulnerabilities in hardware and software systems such as operating systems, web browsers, and open source libraries,

Latest Apple iOS Update Patches Remote Jailbreak Exploit for iPhones

Latest Apple iOS Update Patches Remote Jailbreak Exploit for iPhones
December 13, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Monday released updates to  iOS ,  macOS ,  tvOS , and  watchOS  with security patches for multiple vulnerabilities, including a remote jailbreak exploit chain as well as a number of critical issues in the Kernel and Safari web browser that were first demonstrated at the Tianfu Cup held in China two months ago. Tracked as CVE-2021-30955, the issue could have enabled a malicious application to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Apple said it addressed the race condition bug with "improved state handling." The flaw also impacts macOS devices. "The kernel bug CVE-2021-30955 is the one we tried [to] use to build our remote jailbreak chain but failed to complete on time," Kunlun Lab's chief executive, @mj0011sec,  said  in a tweet. A set of similar kernel vulnerabilities were eventually harnessed by the Pangu Team at the  Tianfu hacking contest  to break into an iPhone13 Pro running iOS 15, a feat that netted the white hat hackers $330,000 in

FTC Bans Stalkerware App SpyFone; Orders Company to Erase Secretly Stolen Data

FTC Bans Stalkerware App SpyFone; Orders Company to Erase Secretly Stolen Data
September 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday banned a stalkerware app company called SpyFone from the surveillance business over concerns that it stealthily harvested and shared data on people's physical movements, phone use, and online activities that were then used by stalkers and domestic abusers to monitor potential targets. "SpyFone is a brazen brand name for a surveillance business that helped stalkers steal private information,"  said  Samuel Levine, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. "The stalkerware was hidden from device owners, but was fully exposed to hackers who exploited the company's slipshod security. This case is an important reminder that surveillance-based businesses pose a significant threat to our safety and security." Calling out the app developers for its lack of basic security practices, the agency has also ordered SpyFone to delete the illegally harvested information and notify devic

Beware! Connecting to This Wireless Network Can Break Your iPhone's Wi-Fi Feature

Beware! Connecting to This Wireless Network Can Break Your iPhone's Wi-Fi Feature
June 21, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A wireless network naming bug has been discovered in Apple's iOS operating system that effectively disables an iPhone's ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network. The issue was spotted by security researcher  Carl Schou , who found that the phone's Wi-Fi functionality gets permanently disabled after joining a Wi-Fi network with the unusual name " %p%s%s%s%s%n " even after rebooting the phone or changing the network's name (i.e., service set identifier or SSID). The bug could have serious implications in that bad actors could exploit the issue to plant fraudulent Wi-Fi hotspots with the name in question to break the device's wireless networking features. After joining my personal WiFi with the SSID "%p%s%s%s%s%n", my iPhone permanently disabled it's WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it :~) pic.twitter.com/2eue90JFu3 — Carl Schou (@vm_call) June 18, 2021 The issue stems from a  string formatting  bug in the manner iOS parses th

Facebook Busts Palestinian Hackers' Operation Spreading Mobile Spyware

Facebook Busts Palestinian Hackers' Operation Spreading Mobile Spyware
April 21, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Facebook on Wednesday said it took steps to dismantle malicious activities perpetrated by two state-sponsored hacking groups operating out of Palestine that abused its platform to distribute malware. The social media giant attributed the attacks to a network connected to the Preventive Security Service ( PSS ), the security apparatus of the State of Palestine, and another threat actor known as Arid Viper (aka Desert Falcon and APT-C-23), the latter of which is alleged to be connected to the cyber arm of Hamas. The two digital espionage campaigns, active in 2019 and 2020, exploited a range of devices and platforms, such as Android, iOS, and Windows, with the PSS cluster primarily targeting domestic audiences in Palestine. The other set of attacks went after users in the Palestinian territories and Syria and, to a lesser extent Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya. Both the groups appear to have leveraged the platform as a springboard to launch a variety of social engineering attacks in

Apple Issues Urgent Patch Update for Another Zero‑Day Under Attack

Apple Issues Urgent Patch Update for Another Zero‑Day Under Attack
March 26, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Merely weeks after releasing out-of-band patches for iOS, iPadOS, macOS and watchOS, Apple has issued yet another security update for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to fix a critical zero-day weakness that it says is being actively exploited in the wild. Tracked as CVE-2021-1879 , the vulnerability relates to a WebKit flaw that could enable adversaries to process maliciously crafted web content that may result in universal cross-site scripting attacks. "This issue was addressed by improved management of object lifetimes," the iPhone maker noted. Apple has credited Clement Lecigne and Billy Leonard of Google's Threat Analysis Group for discovering and reporting the issue. While details of the flaw have not been disclosed, the company said it's aware of reports that CVE-2021-1879 may have been actively exploited. Updates are available for the following devices: iOS 12.5.2  - Phone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, and iPod touch (6t

New 'Silver Sparrow' Malware Infected Nearly 30,000 Apple Macs

New 'Silver Sparrow' Malware Infected Nearly 30,000 Apple Macs
February 21, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Days after the  first malware  targeting Apple M1 chips was discovered in the wild, researchers have disclosed yet another previously undetected piece of malicious software that was found in about 30,000 Macs running Intel x86_64 and the iPhone maker's M1 processors. However, the ultimate goal of the operation remains something of a conundrum, what with the lack of a next-stage or final payload leaving researchers unsure of its distribution timeline and whether the threat is just under active development. Calling the malware "Silver Sparrow," cybersecurity firm Red Canary said it identified two different versions of the malware — one compiled only for Intel x86_64 and uploaded to VirusTotal on August 31, 2020 ( version 1 ), and a second variant submitted to the database on January 22 that's compatible with both Intel x86_64 and M1 ARM64 architectures ( version 2 ). Adding to the mystery, the x86_64 binary, upon execution, simply displays the message "Hello,

iPhones of 36 Journalists Hacked Using iMessage Zero-Click Exploit

iPhones of 36 Journalists Hacked Using iMessage Zero-Click Exploit
December 20, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
Three dozen journalists working for Al Jazeera had their iPhones stealthily compromised via a zero-click exploit to install spyware as part of a Middle East cyberespionage campaign. In a new  report  published yesterday by University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, researchers said personal phones of 36 journalists, producers, anchors, and executives at Al Jazeera, and a journalist at London-based Al Araby TV were infected with Pegasus malware via a now-fixed flaw in Apple's iMessage. Pegasus is developed by Israeli private intelligence firm NSO Group and allows an attacker to  access sensitive data  stored on a target device — all without the victim's knowledge. "The shift towards zero-click attacks by an industry and customers already steeped in secrecy increases the likelihood of abuse going undetected," the researchers said. "It is more challenging [...] to track these zero-click attacks because targets may not notice anything suspicious on their phone. E

Chinese Hackers Using New iPhone Hack to Spy On Uyghur Muslims

Chinese Hackers Using New iPhone Hack to Spy On Uyghur Muslims
April 22, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A Chinese hacking group has been found leveraging a new exploit chain in iOS devices to install a spyware implant targeting the Uyghur Muslim minority in China's autonomous region of Xinjiang. The findings, published by digital forensics firm Volexity , reveal that the exploit — named "Insomnia" — works against iOS versions 12.3, 12.3.1, and 12.3.2 using a flaw in WebKit that was patched by Apple with the release of iOS 12.4 in July 2019. Volexity said the attacks were carried out by a state-sponsored hacking group it calls Evil Eye , the same threat actor that it said was behind a series of attacks against the Uyghurs last September following a bombshell disclosure by Google's Project Zero team . China has long considered Xinjiang a breeding ground for " separatists, terrorists and religious extremists ," with the residents of the region — ethnically Turkic Muslims — thrown into concentration camps , and subjected to persecution and high-tech surv

Hackers Used Local News Sites to Install Spyware On iPhones

Hackers Used Local News Sites to Install Spyware On iPhones
March 27, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A newly discovered watering-hole campaign is targeting Apple iPhone users in Hong Kong by using malicious website links as a lure to install spyware on the devices. According to research published by Trend Micro and Kaspersky , the " Operation Poisoned News " attack leverages a remote iOS exploit chain to deploy a feature-rich implant called 'LightSpy' through links to local news websites, which when clicked, executes the malware payload and allows an interloper to exfiltrate sensitive data from the affected device and even take full control. Watering-hole attacks typically let a bad actor compromise a specific group of end-users by infecting websites that they are known to visit, with an intention to gain access to the victim's device and load it with malware. The APT group, dubbed "TwoSail Junk" by Kaspersky, is said to be leveraging vulnerabilities present in iOS 12.1 and 12.2 spanning all models from iPhone 6 to the iPhone X, with the attac

Saudi Prince Allegedly Hacked World's Richest Man Jeff Bezos Using WhatsApp

Saudi Prince Allegedly Hacked World's Richest Man Jeff Bezos Using WhatsApp
January 22, 2020Mohit Kumar
The iPhone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos , the world's richest man, was reportedly hacked in May 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message from the personal account of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman , the Guardian newspaper revealed today. Citing unnamed sources familiar with digital forensic analysis of the breach, the newspaper claimed that a massive amount of data was exfiltrated from Bezos's phone within hours after he received a malicious video file from the Saudi prince. The mysterious file was sent when crown prince Salman and Bezos were having a friendly WhatsApp conversation, and it's 'highly probable' that it exploited an undisclosed zero-day vulnerability of WhatsApp messenger to install malware on Bezos's iPhone. "The forensic analysis found that within hours of receipt of the MP4 video file from the Crown Prince's account, massive and (for Bezos' phone) unprecedented exfiltration of data from the phone began, increasing da

Facebook Sues Israeli NSO Spyware Firm For Hacking WhatsApp Users

Facebook Sues Israeli NSO Spyware Firm For Hacking WhatsApp Users
October 29, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Finally, for the very first time, an encrypted messaging service provider is taking legal action against a private entity that has carried out malicious attacks against its users. Facebook filed a lawsuit against Israeli mobile surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, alleging that the company was actively involved in hacking users of its end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp messaging service. Earlier this year, it was discovered that WhatsApp had a critical vulnerability that attackers were found exploiting in the wild to remotely install Pegasus spyware on targeted Android and iOS devices. The flaw (CVE-2019-3568) successfully allowed attackers to silently install the spyware app on targeted phones by merely placing a WhatsApp video call with specially crafted requests, even when the call was not answered. Developed by NSO Group, Pegasus allows access to an incredible amount of data from victims' smartphones remotely, including their text messages, emails, WhatsApp chats,

1-Click iPhone and Android Exploits Target Tibetan Users via WhatsApp

1-Click iPhone and Android Exploits Target Tibetan Users via WhatsApp
September 24, 2019Mohit Kumar
A team of Canadian cybersecurity researchers has uncovered a sophisticated and targeted mobile hacking campaign that is targeting high-profile members of various Tibetan groups with one-click exploits for iOS and Android devices. Dubbed Poison Carp by University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, the hacking group behind this campaign sent tailored malicious web links to its targets over WhatsApp, which, when opened, exploited web browser and privilege escalation vulnerabilities to install spyware on iOS and Android devices stealthily. "Between November 2018 and May 2019, senior members of Tibetan groups received malicious links in individually tailored WhatsApp text exchanges with operators posing as NGO workers, journalists, and other fake personas," the researchers say . What's more? The researchers said they found "technical overlaps" of Poison Carp with two recently discovered campaigns against the Uyghur community in China—the iPhone hacking campaign

Police Can't Force You To Unlock Your Phone Using Face or Fingerprint Scan

Police Can't Force You To Unlock Your Phone Using Face or Fingerprint Scan
January 15, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Can feds force you to unlock your iPhone or Android phone? ..."NO" A Northern California judge has ruled that federal authorities can't force you to unlock your smartphone using your fingerprints or other biometric features such as facial recognition—even with a warrant. The ruling came in the case of two unspecified suspects allegedly using Facebook Messenger to threaten a man with the release of an "embarrassing video" to the public if he did not hand over money. The federal authorities requested a search warrant for an Oakland residence, seeking to seize multiple devices connected to the suspects and then compel anybody on the premises at the time of their visit to unlock the devices using fingerprint, facial or iris recognition. However, Magistrate Judge Kandis Westmore of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California turned down the request, ruling the request was "overbroad and neither limited to a particular person nor

Zerodium Offers to Buy Zero-Day Exploits at Higher Prices Than Ever

Zerodium Offers to Buy Zero-Day Exploits at Higher Prices Than Ever
January 08, 2019Mohit Kumar
Well, there's some good news for hackers and vulnerability hunters, though terrible news for tech manufacturers! Exploit vendor Zerodium is now willing to offer significantly higher payouts for full, working zero-day exploits that allow stealing of data from WhatsApp, iMessage and other online chat applications. Zerodium—a startup by the infamous French-based company Vupen that buys and sells zero-day exploits to government agencies around the world—said it would now pay up to $2 million for remote iOS jailbreaks and $1 million for exploits that target secure messaging apps. Get $2 Million for Remotely Jailbreaking An iPhone Previously, Zerodium was offering $1.5 million for persistent iOS jailbreaks that can be executed remotely without any user interaction (zero-click)—but now the company has increased that amount to $2 million. The company is now offering $1.5 million for a remote iOS jailbreak that requires minimal user interaction (i.e., single-click)—the amount h

New iPhone Bug Gives Anyone Access to Your Private Photos

New iPhone Bug Gives Anyone Access to Your Private Photos
October 16, 2018Mohit Kumar
A security enthusiast who discovered a passcode bypass vulnerability in Apple's iOS 12 late last month has now dropped another passcode bypass bug that works on the latest iOS 12.0.1 that was released last week. Jose Rodriguez, a Spanish amateur security researcher, discovered a bug in iOS 12 in late September that allows attackers with physical access to your iPhone to access your contacts and photos. The bug was patched in iOS 12.0.1, but he now discovered a similar iPhone passcode bypass hack that works in 12.0.1 and is easier to execute than the bug Rodriguez discovered and reported two weeks ago. The new hack allows anyone with physical access to your locked iPhone to access your photo album, select photos and send them to anyone using Apple Messages. Since the new hack requires much less effort than the previous one, it leaves any iPhone user vulnerable to a skeptic or distrustful partner, curious college, friend or roommate who could access your iPhone's photo

Pangu Hackers have Jailbroken iOS 12 on Apple's New iPhone XS

Pangu Hackers have Jailbroken iOS 12 on Apple's New iPhone XS
September 27, 2018Mohit Kumar
Bad news for Apple. The Chinese hacking team Pangu is back and has once again surprised everyone with a jailbreak for iOS 12 running on the brand-new iPhone XS. Well, that was really fast. Pangu jailbreak team has been quiet for a while, since it last released the untethered jailbreak tool for iOS 9 back in October 2015. Jailbreaking is a process of removing limitations on Apple's iOS devices so users can install third-party software not certified by Apple. Today, Android and iOS security researcher Min(Spark) Zheng shared a Tweet with two screenshots showing a working jailbreak on Apple's newly released iPhone XS with A12 Bionic chip achieved by one of the Pangu researchers. The Tweet also revealed that the iOS 12 jailbreak works by bypassing a functional PAC (Pointer authentication codes) mitigation implemented in the new Apple's A12 Bionic chip. Moreover, since the hardware of iPhone XS is very much identical to iPhone XS Max, the new iOS 12 jailbreak expl
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