iPhone Vulnerability even worse than assumed – everything exposed when connected to Windows

This is getting worse and worse – the good people over at H Security (here is the article) found out that the iPhone issue first reported by security expert Bernd Marienfeldt is even more significant: You can connect an iPhone to a Windows Vista machine and lo and behold, EVERYTHING is accessible, EVEN passwords.

[…] managed to connect an iPhone with iTunes under Windows and created a full backup, including such sensitive data as passwords in clear text.

However, they state, this does not work if the iPhone was in a locked state before it was shutdown. The article says.

[…] has come to the conclusion that the problem only occurs if the iPhone was shut down from an unlocked state. During the wake up this state is restored and the device is “open” for a short period of time before the Springboard application wakes up and locks it down. This short period is sufficient for a pairing to occur that ensures permanent access. An iPhone that was shut down in a locked state does not accept the pairing – which corresponds to heise Security’s observations. This reduces the risk somewhat, because a lost iPhone in a locked state cannot be tricked into pairing.

Either way, crazy stuff.


Vulnerability in iPhone data encryption Or: Do not lose your iPhone because everyone will be able to access it

Bernd Marienfeldt, security officer at LINX, uncovered a pretty bad vulnerability of the latest iPhone that is out there: even with encryption, set passphrases etc, anyone using Ubuntu LINUX can access certain data you have stored on it. There is no fix for this yet.

More detail on Heise-Online, here is the article.


.. found that he was able to gain unfettered access to his iPhone 3GS from Ubuntu 10.04. If he connected the device whilst it was turned off and then turned it on, Ubuntu auto-mounted the file system and was able to access several folders despite never having previously been connected to the iPhone. The H’s associates at heise Security have successfully reproduced the problem. An Ubuntu system which had never before communicated with the iPhone immediately displayed a range of folders. Their contents included the unencrypted images, MP3s and audio recordings stored on the device.

UPDATE: Rumors have it that this may also affect the iPad.

How to secure your Smartphone (Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile-based phones)

Considering that more and more people use Smartphones like Blackberries and iPhones, mobile security becomes more and more of an issue. You have an anti-virus scanner on your laptop? A firewall? You keep it up to date with the latest patches? That is awesome; I commend you for it. But what about your phone that you use to access your e-mail? How do you protect your Smartphone from getting hacked?

This is the first part of a series on how to secure your Smartphones. Credits to PCMag.

BlackBerry (System 4.5 and higher)

Go to Options, then Security Options, then:

  1. Password-protect start-up. Under General Settings, set Password to Enabled. You may also want to change other settings here, such as the number of password attempts allowed before the device is locked, and whether the device should automatically lock on holstering. Commit your changes by pressing the Back button (the half-circle arrow) and enter your new password when prompted. Choose a password you’ll remember and that will be quick and easy to type using the device’s keypad. Confirm that password, then exit to the main menu. Lock your phone by pressing and holding the * button to confirm that it has been password-protected.
  2. Encrypt data. Scroll past General Settings to Content Protection, and enable it. Under Strength, you can select Strong (80 bits), Stronger (128 bits), or Strongest (256 bits). I recommend using Stronger for faster encryption/decryption or Strongest for the most security. Selecting Yes for Include Address Book will keep your contacts secure but also result in disabling caller ID when the phone is locked. Circle-arrow back out, then create an encryption key by randomly moving the trackball and typing characters. A good practice is to regenerate an encryption key every two to four weeks: Under Security Options | General Settings, click on any service, then click Regenerate encryption key.
  3. Secure passwords. Please don’t fall into the trap of saving usernames and passwords in your mobile device’s browser. Anyone who finds your device and unlocks it then has access to all of your online accounts. Instead, use the Password Keeper utility to store and encrypt this info.
  4. Lock down Bluetooth. By default, Bluetooth is on. In addition to wasting your battery, this leaves you open to Bluetooth-based attacks. From the Home screen, go to Set Up Bluetooth. When prompted to Add Device select Cancel. Press the Menu button, then select Options. Set Discoverable to No, so other devices can’t find your BlackBerry, and set Security to High—or if the Bluetooth devices you use with your BlackBerry support it, set Security to High + Encryption to encrypt Bluetooth data transmissions. From the following checklist, enable only those services you think you are going to use with Bluetooth—most commonly headset and hands-free. Exit and save.
  5. Clear memory. Also under Security Options, memory clearing can delete sensitive data, such as unencrypted e-mail messages and username, password, and other certificate-related info, from memory. You can set the BlackBerry to clear memory under certain circumstances—for example, when you holster your BlackBerry or lock it.

Smartphone (Windows Mobile 6)

  1. Password protect start-up. Go to Start | Settings | Lock and configure a password. Check the box next to Prompt if the device is unused for and then select a time period from the drop-down box, something in the 5-to-30-minute range. You can set your password to be a simple four-digit PIN or a strong alphanumeric string and then enter your password in the boxes below. You can also set a hint, but remember that this can be read by anyone with physical access to your phone. At this point, it would help to go to Settings | Today, click the Items tab and check the box next to Device Lock to provide a quick locking option on your Home screen.
  2. Encrypt data. Under Settings | Security | Encryption, check the box that says Encrypt files placed on the storage card, then click OK. A storage card can actually contain both encrypted and nonencrypted data, but encrypted data can be read only from the device in which it was encrypted and written, or from a Windows PC using ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center. There’s also a big gotcha lurking: If you have to perform a hard reset of your device or update the ROM, you will lose the encryption key stored on the device, and with it, access to your data. Companies can push encryption policies to Windows Mobile devices using Exchange Server 2007.
  3. Secure passwords. This requires a third-party solution, such as KeePass or some other eWallet type of encrypted password manager.
  4. Lock down Bluetooth. Go to Start | Settings, then the Connections tab, then Bluetooth. On the Mode tab you can enable or disable Bluetooth and make your device visible; Off and Not visible are the more secure settings. Scroll all the way right to the Security tab and check the box to require authentication for data beaming.
  5. Clear the memory and cache. In Internet Explorer, go to Menu | Tools | Options; in the Memory tab you can set a history retention time in days or clear the history manually. Click the Delete Files button to clear the Web cache. Navigate to the Security tab and click the Clear Cookies button.


Unfortunately, you won’t find a list item called “Encrypt data” below. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any encryption available for iPhones.

  1. Enable Passcode Lock and Auto-Lock. Click the main iPhone Settings icon, then click the General tab and select Auto-Lock. Select the time period you want, then exit out to the Home screen. Once Auto-Lock locks the phone, Passcode Lock will require a four-digit PIN to unlock it. Click the iPhone Settings icon, then General, then Passcode Lock. From there enable Turn Passcode On. Enter your passcode. Tap Require Passcode and then choose “immediately.”
  2. Secure passwords. There’s no native way to do this, so you’ll have to use a third-party password manager.
  3. Lock down Bluetooth. It’s great that Bluetooth is off by default on iPhones, but you should also set yours to require an eight-character PIN for connections with Macs. Turn on Bluetooth only when you need it.
  4. Clear the memory and cache. Back on the Passcode Lock screen, you can disable SMS Preview while the device is in its locked state, and also turn on the Erase Data function. This will wipe the iPhone clean after ten failed passcode attempts. You can clear cookies, browser cache, and history from the Settings menu in Safari.

This should get you started.