Is Your iPhone Passcode [Security Code] Useless? Hack Reveals How Cyber Criminals Can Bypass The Four-Digit Code On Your Handset — With a $297 Device — And Up To Four Days To Compromise
Victoria Woollaston, writing in the March 31, 2015 edition of London’s TheDailyMailOnline, reports that “a team of experts has found a way to bypass the Apple iPhone’s security feature — which locks an iPhone after too many incorrect attempts at entering a security passcode — using a DIY hacking kit made from parts bought online. The gadget plugs into a [cell] phone; and, simulates the PIN entry, over USB, meaning it can bruteforce evey possible combination — until it finds the correct one. Importantly,” Ms. Woollaston adds, “by connecting directly to the phone’s power source, it can override the ‘Erase data after 10 attempts setting.”
“The hack, and the device, was devised by experts from the London-based — MDSec, — authors of the Mobil Application Hacker’s Handbook,” Ms. Woollaston wrote. The device/technique, “takes advantage of a flaw in the iOS 8.1, that creates a tiny delay between the PIN code being entered, and the phone unlocking.” MDSec’s device cuts the power source immediately after each failed attempt; but, before the attempt has been synchronized with the phone’s flash memory.”
“We recently became aware of a device known as an IP Box, that was being used in the phone repair markets to brute-force the iOS screen-lock,” the researchers said. “This obviously has huge security implications; and naturally, it was something we wanted to investigate and validate. Although we are still analyzing the device, it appears relatively simple — in that it stimulates the PIN entry over the USB connection; and sequentially, brute-forces every possible PIN combination. That in itself is unsurprising, and has been known for some time. What is surprising, is that this still works, even with the ‘Erase data after 10 attempts,’ configuration setting enabled,” the researchers warned.
“MDSec’s total setup cost around $297; and, the researchers explained that because each PIN entry takes approximately 40 seconds — including the phone shutting down — it can take more than four days to brute-force a four-digit code. The hack only works if a criminal has stolen, or found the phone….and, it only applies to phones running iOS 8.1, or older.”
“Apple has reportedly fixed the bug in 8.1.1, and people running older versions of the software are advised to update to the latest version,” Ms. Woollaston writes.
And, I wrote the other day about cyber sleuths being able to breach air-gaped systems using the heat coming off the targeted machine. You build a ‘mousetrap,’ and cyber thieves will find a way to defeat your digital defenses. Just because you haven’t discovered a breach or penetration doesn’t mean your system hasn’t been compromised. It is more likely that you have been breached and you just don’t know it yet. After all, the best cyber thieves haven’t been caught yet. And remember, ‘it’s the second mouse that always gets the cheese.’ It is best to assume that your network has been compromised; and, go from there. Never assume you are clean. To do so, courts disaster and nasty surprises. V/R, RCP