Encryption attack affects apps installed on older iOS versions

Encryption attack affects apps installed on older iOS versions

Amid a fight in American justice between Apple and the FBI over security of iGadgets, a group of Israeli researchers at the University of Tel Aviv has published details of an encryption vulnerability that could affect devices running older versions of iOS. The proof of concept presented does not affect the integrity of the devices themselves, but rather secure communications made by applications, usually developed over the library Common Crypto.

IOS installed base

The type attack side-channel and conducted by performing electromagnetic readings of key transmissions via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, based on the ECDSA algorithm. Using an appropriate capture device near a vulnerable device, it is possible to extract keys used for authenticating or transmitting sensitive data in transit. The proof was effective not only on iPhones, but also on Android smartphones with vulnerable OpenSSL implementations that are not normally updated by manufacturers.

In the case of iOS, the affected versions range from 7.1.3 to 8.3. In version 9 onwards, already updated by almost 80% of users, the researchers did not obtain evidence of the vulnerability; according to them, the implementation of Common Crypto employed by Apple has been reinforced to mitigate attacks by side-channel happen.

Such evidence, however, does not leave the scenario presented by this technique less worrying. According to the Ars Technica, the equipment needed to exploit the flaw with the appropriate knowledge can be obtained from $ 2 and leaves part of Apple's legacy base, in addition to a third of Android users (since recent fixes for OpenSSL arrived only in patches versions 4.4 KitKat and 5.0 Lollipop) at risk.