Vulnerabilities / Threats

3/11/2011
12:50 PM
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iPhone, BlackBerry Hacked At Pwn2Own Contest

Android and Windows 7 Phone remain untested at the competition.

On the second day of the Pwn2Own hacking competition at CanSecWest in Vancouver on Thursday, Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry fells to determined attacks by security researchers.

Charlie Miller, a security expert with Independent Security Evaluators who has previously hacked Macs at Pwn2Own, compromised an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.2.1.

According to ZDNet, Miller developed the exploit with the help of colleague Dion Blazakis.

Just prior to the contest, Apple released iOS 4.3, which reportedly protects against the exploit, thanks to the addition of a security technology known as ASLR (address space layout randomization). ASLR, also used in current versions of Windows, makes the location of data and code in memory unpredictable, which makes exploitation more difficult.

The vulnerability itself, however, remains unpatched, despite the fact that Apple fixed 59 vulnerabilities in its iOS 4.3 release.

Three other researchers, Vincenzo Iozzo, Willem Pinckaers and Ralf Philipp Weinmann, compromised a BlackBerry using a flaw in the open source WebKit browser engine. RIM just recently integrated WebKit. Looking for vulnerabilities in WebKit makes a lot of sense for security researchers because the code is also used by Apple and Google in their browsers.

Iozzo told ZDNet that the major challenge with the BlackBerry was security through obscurity -- the researchers had trouble finding information about the device. Iozzo reportly characterized BlackBerry's security as "way behind the iPhone" due to the lack of ASLR or DEP (data execution prevention).

A researcher who was planning to try to hack a Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7 Phone withdrew at the last minute, though he may try again, according to The Register. No one has said they intend to attempt to break into a Samsung Nexus S running Android.

On Wednesday, security researchers managed to compromise Apple's Safari browser and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. No one tried to hack Firefox or Chrome.

Pwn2Own is sponsored by TippingPoint, a division of HP.

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