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.
“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,â€™ and have received no reply,” the researcher said in a presentation. â€œApple is well aware of these components, and has clearly been updating them and supporting them for reasons unknown.â€
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 canâ€™t be passed by Apple to law enforcement.
â€œI 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,â€ Zdziarski concluded.