Feeds

iPhone security cracked, smacked and broken

3GS cheerfully decrypts itself, says researcher

Website security in corporate America

A researcher has delved into the encryption used to protect content on the iPhone 3GS, only to claim it is "entirely useless" and that he had "[never] seen encryption implemented so poorly before".

Jonathan Zdziarski spent a couple of minutes demonstrating to Wired that he could copy and decrypt secured information from an iPhone. He removed the SIM to disable any remote-wipe procedures - demonstrating a security risk and concluding that "Apple may be technically correct that [the iPhone 3GS] has an encryption piece in it, but it’s entirely useless toward[s] security".

Earlier iPhone models don't use encrypted storage, but from the demonstrations performed for Wired, it seems that the iPhone 3GS will happily, and automatically, decrypt information as it's copied from the device using a remotely-installed shell - rendering the encryption pointless at best.

Apple might have demonstrated their inability to implement decent cryptographic protection of the content, but few phone systems even bother to make the attempt. With the notable exception of RIM's BlackBerry devices, it's best to assume that once an attacker has physical possession of the phone he'll gain access to the contents pretty quickly. Legally-used forensic software spends most of its time maintaining a legally-verifiable audit trail, rather than using clever techniques to extract the data.

There is an argument that implementing such weak security is worse than not bothering at all. Apple appears to be lending users a false confidence while allowing miscreants free access. But it seems unlikely that many enterprise customers were relying on Apple's encryption to protect their corporate secrets, and if they were, then they should think again. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.