Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

9/15/2009
06:14 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
Commentary
50%
50%

iPhone Security Fix May Reveal Longstanding Vulnerability

The latest release of the OS for iPhones and iPod Touches breaks the Microsoft Exchange Server compatibility of many existing devices. In doing so, it may have revealed that businesses that trusted Apple's assurances about the devices' security were misled.

The latest release of the OS for iPhones and iPod Touches breaks the Microsoft Exchange Server compatibility of many existing devices. In doing so, it may have revealed that businesses that trusted Apple's assurances about the devices' security were misled.Version 3.1 of the iPhone OS, released last week, apparently fixes a security vulnerability in the previous version that came out last June. But in so doing, it has uncovered what some observers believe to have been deceptive practices by Apple for more than a year. Users who installed the new version on pre-GS iPhones and iPod Touches suddenly found that they could no longer connect to their companies' Exchange servers. When they tried, they got an error message saying that "the account [name] requires encryption which is not supported on this iPod/iPhone."

The encryption requirement is set on the Exchange side, and the wording of the message indicates that the device itself is unable to support encryption, period. The problem is, many iPhone owners have been blithely accessing Exchange servers with that requirement since July 2008, when iPhone 2.0 added that capability. One conclusion is that the iPhone has been confirming to Exchange that it supported encryption when in fact it did not, meaning that business users have been toting around insecure data all this time while thinking they were meeing their company's security policies.

At the moment, there are three fixes for the immediate problem: first, have your company remove the encryption requirement from Exchange. Few companies who bothered to establish that requirement in the first place are likely to remove it just to support old iPhones. Second, replace your iPhone with a new iPhone 3GS -- a great solution from Apple's standpoint, but not so great for a cost-conscious business. Or third, downgrade your iPhone to version 3.0 of the OS if you still have it. That'll restore access to your Exchange server, but if that access was enabled by false confirmation from the iPhone, this approach won't solve the security problem.

So far, Apple has not addressed the issue, so we don't know whether the OS can be modified to support encryption on older devices, or indeed whether those devices can manage encryption at all. This episode highlights in a dramatic fashion the headaches that come with the consumerization of business technology, particularly the addition of personal smartphones to the workplace systems mix. Even more, it raises issues of trust for Apple. As a booster of Apple solutions for small and midsize businesses, I'll be watching closely to see if the company acknowledges and addresses the issue.

Don't Miss: Help Arrives to Secure Mobile Devices

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-30480
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Zoom Chat through 2021-04-09 on Windows and macOS allows certain remote authenticated attackers to execute arbitrary code without user interaction. An attacker must be within the same organization, or an external party who has been accepted as a contact. NOTE: this is specific to the Zoom Chat softw...
CVE-2021-21194
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Use after free in screen sharing in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.
CVE-2021-21195
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Use after free in V8 in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.
CVE-2021-21196
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Heap buffer overflow in TabStrip in Google Chrome on Windows prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.
CVE-2021-21197
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Heap buffer overflow in TabStrip in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.