Nicholas Allegra, better known as ‘comex’, the creator of the JailBreakMe website which made it child’s play for iPhone owners to jailbreak their devices, has been given an internship at Apple.
The 19-year-old from Chappaqua, New York posted the news of his new position on Twitter:
Allegra has given Apple plenty of headaches in the last couple of years, finding security vulnerabilities in Apple’s iPhone that allowed anyone to convert their smartphone into a device capable of running unapproved applications.
Normally jailbreaking requires users to connect their device to a computer before they can start to tamper with the set-up of their iPhone or iPad – but JailBreakMe made it significantly easier.
Just visiting the website with Safari would trigger a security vulnerability, allowing code to run which would jailbreak the iPhone or iPad.
Apple don’t like folks jailbreaking their iPhones, so it’s understandable that they would rather have the man behind the JailBreakMe website working for them rather than exposing their security weaknesses.
After all, whenever Allegra updated his JailBreakMe website to defeat Apple’s security he was given a potentially dangerous blueprint to more malicious hackers who may want to plant more dangerous code.
Each time Allegra has found a flaw in Apple’s software, the company has been forced to rush out a security patch.
So, what’s going to change now Apple has made jailbreaking expert Nicholas Allegra an intern?
Well, I would imagine that they’ll be strongly encouraging him to share with them any details of security flaws he finds with their software rather than updating his drive-by jailbreaking website. That way they’ll be able to work on patching any vulnerabilities he discovers before they are made public.
I’m sure they’ll be particularly keen to prevent Allegra from publishing details on how to jailbreak the next incarnation of iOS, version 5.0, or the much-mooted iPhone 5.
From Apple’s point of view it’s a case of: If you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em.
By Graham Cluley @ nakedsecurity.sophos.com
Right now, if you visit a web page and load a simple PDF file, you may give total control of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to a hacker. The security bug affects all devices running iOS 3.1.2 and higher.
Update: Initially we thought that this exploit only effected iOS4 devices, but it turns out all iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads running 3.1.2 and higher are susceptible.
The vulnerability is easily exploitable. In fact, the latest one-click, no-computer-required Jailbreak solution for iOS 4 devices uses this same method to break Apple’s own security (although in a completely benign way for the user).
How it works
It just requires the user to visit a web address using Safari. The web site can automatically load a simple PDF document, which contains a font that hides a special program. When your iOS device tries to display the PDF file, that font causes something called stack overflow, a technical condition that allows the secret ninja code inside the font to gain complete control of your device.
The result is that, without any user intervention whatsoever, that program can do whatever it wants inside your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Anything you can imagine: Delete files, transmit files, install programs running on the background that can monitor your actions… anything can be done.
This is not the first time that something similar has happened. At the beginning of the iPhone’s life there was a problem with TIFF files that also caused the same security breach. Apple patched the bug after a while, but back then there were very few iPhones compared to the current installed base. Apple says that there are 100 million iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads in the world. Obviously, malicious hackers are racing to get a slice of that market.
How can you avoid it?
Right now, the easiest way to avoid this problem is by not going to any PDF links directly and not loading any PDF from any non-trusted source.
You can also jailbreak your iPhone and install a program that will ask for authorization every time your browser encounters a PDF (just look for “PDF loading warner” in Cydia).
While this doesn’t solve the security problem at all, at least it will remind you every single time.
Source : http://gizmodo.com
A website that has made it simple for iPhone and iPad users to jailbreak their devices may not just be a headache for Apple, but also a portent for future malicious attacks.
Owners of Apple gadgets who visit the JailbreakMe website in Safari have found that all they need to jailbreak their device is slide a button to give permission, opening up the possibility of installing apps that have not been approved by the official AppStore.
Previously, jailbreaking has required users to connect their device to a computer before they can start to tamper with the set-up of their iPhone or iPad and gain access to the Cydia underground app store.
The drive-by jailbreak is possible because the website exploits a vulnerability in the way that the mobile edition of Safari (the default browser used in the iOS operating system) handles PDF files – specifically its handling of fonts.
As a number of YouTube videos have demonstrated, it’s a pretty slick process:
What concerns me, and others in the security community, however, is that if simply visiting a website with your iPhone can cause it to be jailbroken – just imagine what else could hackers do by exploiting this vulnerability? Cybercriminals would be able to create booby-trapped webpages that could – if visited by an unsuspecting iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad owner – run code on visiting devices without the user’s permission.
Sophos has launched its first application for the Apple iPhone – designed to give you a better view of the security threats that are out there, with live hourly updates direct from SophosLabs.
The app, which also runs on the iPod Touch and the iPad, allows you to access Sophos information when you’re on the move or away from your desk, and includes the following supa-dupa features:
Threat Spotlight Experts from our labs detail some of the most interesting threats that they have analysed in the last week, explaining who is at risk, details of the attack and how to avoid becoming a victim.
Latest threats A dynamic list of the latest top ten threats analysed by the experts in SophosLabs, providing detailed information on their prevalence and a helpful link to further details on the Sophos website.
Stats Sexy graphs to bamboozle your boss with – showing in technicolour pie charts the latest stats for top email attachment malware attacks, spam and web-based threats.
Maps Now this is funky. Your iPhone will show you a world map, allowing you to view not just the latest email, spam and web attacks – but where they have been spotted around the world. You can even zoom in on particular countries, and view the subject lines of spams being sent around the globe.
Info Links to our blogs, our latest threat report, and loads of other good stuff.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab it from the Apple App Store now, or search for “Sophos” in the iTunes App Store.
We’re very interested in getting feedback as to what you think of this Sophos app. So please do leave us a rating and a review on iTunes, as it will help us decide if we should develop it further.
Also, if you have the time, why not quickly fill in the following survey to tell us what you’d like to see next from the Sophos Security Threat Monitor app?
Could someone be spying on the emails you send and the websites you visit on your iPad?
For many the thought that someone could be reading every email you send, secretly logging every call that you make on your mobile phone, or silently tracking your location via GPS would be the stuff of nightmares.
And yet software exists (and is sold completely legitimately online) that does exactly this for those who wish to spy on their workers, or on members of their family.
And now a firm which in the past has made surveillance software to monitor the usage of iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Android , Windows Mobile and Symbian smartphones has announced a version of its snooping software to spy on iPads.
For just $99.97 a year, Mobile Spy customers can access a website that allows them to view a list of every website visited on an iPad, every contact added to the address book, and every email sent and received.
The way that vendors get away with this is by explaining that it is almost certainly an offence to install software onto a phone or computer that monitors or spies upon the owner unless you have authorisation to install it.
So, for instance, it would be okay to spy on your employees phone, computer or iPad activity if they had agreed to such surveillance in their contract. And it would be okay to snoop upon your kids because.. well, they’re your kids, and how likely are they to take you to court?
Such software exists in the “grey” area between legitimate and illegitimate software, typically promoted as a way for wives to spy on philandering husbands, or for concerned parents to keep an eye on what their babysitter is up to, or to assist companies in enforcing acceptable use policies, rather than more traditional identity theft – but it’s clear that it can be used for a criminal purposes too.
Fortunately, Mobile Spy’s spyware for iPads only works on jailbroken devices. In other words, not only does whoever want to spy on you need access to your iPad to install the software, your iPad also needs to have been tinkered with to allow you to run software that hasn’t been given the stamp of approval by Apple.
Late last year we saw malware which targeted users of jailbroken iPhones. My expectation is that if enough iPad owners jailbreak their gizmos too that some of the hackers at least won’t be far behind.
Hat-tip: Krebs on Security
By Graham Cluley, Sophos