Industry News

Hacker Finds Undocumented Functions in Apple’s iOS That Could Siphon Data

Jonathan “NerveGas” Zdziarski, an iOS researcher and developer, has found several undocumented functions in Apple’s mobile iOS that allegedly siphon data back to Apple, according to a blog post.

The functions retrieve data, without authentication, from an iOS-based device using wireless or USB connections and have no other purpose other than data retrieval from devices, Zdziarski says.

Hacker Finds Undocumented Functions in Apple's iOS That Could Siphon Data

“I have emailed both Tim Cook and Steve Jobs at various times to ask for an explanation about these services, citing them as `back doors,’ and have received no reply,” the researcher said in a presentation. “Apple is well aware of these components, and has clearly been updating them and supporting them for reasons unknown.”

With the help of commercial forensic tools, one can bypass encrypted backups and access a lot of data by taking advantage of these iOS functions.

The iOS also has a libpcap packet-sniffing service that, via WiFi, is exploitable without leaving a trace.

The researcher was able to retrieve data, such as private messages and deleted messages, from an installed Twitter app. OAuth tokens were also easy to retrieve and could be used to spy on users, as all these “backdoors” seem to have been around for years.

Call history, SMS texts, photo, video and audio recordings can be accessed by law enforcement, while data of third-party apps, calendar entries and emails can’t be passed by Apple to law enforcement.

“I have NOT accused Apple of working with NSA, however I suspect (based on released documents) that some of these services MAY have been used by NSA to collect data on potential targets,” Zdziarski concluded.

About the author

Lucian Ciolacu

Still the youngest Bitdefender News writer, Lucian is constantly after flash news in the security industry, especially when something is vulnerable or exploited. Besides digging for 'hacker' scoops and data leaks, he enjoys sports, such as football and tennis.
He has also combined an interest for social and political sciences, as a graduate of the Political Science Faculty, with a passion for guitar and computer games.