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Researcher says Apple fibs about crypto for iOS email attachments

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Apple has been busted for falsely claiming that email attachments sent from iOS are encrypted.

German researcher Andreas Kurtz found email attachments for POP, IMAP and ActiveSync accounts were available in clear text on iPhone 4, 5s and iPad 2 devices.

"A few weeks ago, I noticed that email attachments within the iOS 7 MobileMail.app are not protected by Apple's data protection mechanisms," Kurtz said in a blog.

"Considering the long time iOS 7 is available by now (sic) and the sensitivity of email attachments many enterprises share on their devices - fundamentally relying on data protection - I expected a near-term patch."

Email attachments were exposed on firmware iOS 7.1.1, 7.1 and 7.0.4 which Kurtz probed by jailbreaking devices using free tools.

The findings contradict Apple's claims on its website that email attachments on all devices newer than the iPhone 3GS were protected by encryption.

Kurtz said Apple was aware of the problem but did not say when a patch would be ready.

Apple has been contacted for comment.

Email attachments were at present safe from prying eyes on new devices such as the iPhone 4s, 5s and 5c running the latest iOS platforms for which jailbreaks have yet to be released.

That's because the jailbreak security modification was required for users to access the internals of iDevices including the ability to nab email attachments.

Kurtz suggested users of affected devices consider disabling mail synchronisation as an albeit inconvenient workaround.

The Neso Security Labs co-founder had last year tipped off Cupertino to a flaw in its personal hotspot function that allowed attackers to join the network by predicting passwords. Apple fixed that flaw by increasing password entropy. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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