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Risk

Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones

SIRI vulnerability enables attackers to act on user's behalf -- even when iPhone is locked

A security flaw in Apple's iOS 7 operating system could enable unauthorized users to send messages or make social network postings on an iPhone owner's behalf -- even when the phone is locked, researchers reported Friday.

The vulnerability, which was disclosed Friday by researchers at application security vendor Cenzic, enables an attacker or prankster to use the SIRI personal voice assistant to crack a locked iPhone and execute tasks that would normally require user permission, such as sending email or posting to Facebook.

In a blog describing the iPhone flaw, the Cenzic researchers said they were able to use a locked iPhone belonging to a third party to send email and texts, make calls, access contact information, and make updates to Facebook and Twitter, all with the user's accounts and without the user's knowledge.

"Imagine someone stealing your iPhone and -- without knowing your passcode – sending messages, email, or social network postings to your friends and contacts, posing as you," the blog says.

The researchers posted a YouTube video demonstrating the ability to use SIRI on a third party's locked iPhone to make an update on the third party's Facebook page. They also reported the ability to collect and steal the personal information of contacts stored in the iPhone.

The flaw also works on some tasks under iOS 6, the researchers say. End users should take care not to let others use their iPhones, and may want to consider disabling SIRI until Apple fixes the problem, the blog states.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

 

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paullj1
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paullj1,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/26/2013 | 8:33:54 PM
re: Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones
It's a configuration issue. If the user is too stupid to realize they've enabled the feature, then they deserve to have someone post on Facebook as them about how stupid they are.
The Point is, the phone doesn't allow you to use SIRI from the lock screen unless it's enabled. I'm not claiming iOS is perfect, it's not. There are flaws in the OS, this isn't one of them.
rstefano
50%
50%
rstefano,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/26/2013 | 3:55:43 PM
re: Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones
To the people saying its not a flaw. Well I'm sorry but it is. Properly implemented, the phone should not allow anything more than notifications or SMS/Calls to be placed and purely out of respect for hands free functionality.
paullj1
50%
50%
paullj1,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/26/2013 | 1:29:56 PM
re: Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones
User stupidity isn't a flaw in the software, if you're leaving your phone in places where you don't trust people using your device, then you should be smart enough to disable the feature.
This is a classic case of, "Oooh! I found a vulnerability in APPLE's OS! Look at me!!"
Could Apple make it the default configuration? Sure, but then people would complain it's not easy to use, and they have to enable SIRI from the lock screen.
Becca Lipman
50%
50%
Becca Lipman,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/24/2013 | 3:54:36 PM
re: Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones
I suppose the "flaw" is that not enough users will realize this option, making the vulnerability commonplace enough for attackers to leverage. Still, given that in the above scenarios the attacker can't disable the phone, all I can think of are school yard pranks - updating unsuspecting peers' FB statuses and the like.
paullj1
50%
50%
paullj1,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2013 | 7:27:55 PM
re: Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones
So, I wouldn't exactly call this a flaw. When you enable the lock screen there's an option to disable SIRI from the lock screen. (Settings -> General -> Lock Screen) It may not be the safest convenience, but probably not a flaw...
Guest
50%
50%
Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2013 | 7:22:22 PM
re: Flaw In iOS 7 Lets Attackers Take Control Of Users' iPhones
You can disable SIRI from the lock screen in Settings -> General -> Passcode Lock. I wouldn't call it a flaw, although I guess it might not be apparent to average end users. If it's disabled from the lock screen none of the above is true.
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