iPhone hacks have often been considered by some to be a rare occurrence. However, a group of Google researchers recently discovered that someone has been exploiting multiple iPhone vulnerabilities for the last two years. How? Simply by getting users to visit a website.
How exactly does this exploitation campaign work? According to WIRED, researchers revealed a handful of websites that had assembled five exploit chains. These exploit chains are tools that link security vulnerabilities together and allow a hacker to penetrate each layer of iOS digital protections. This campaign took advantage of 14 security flaws, resulting in the attacker gaining complete control over a user’s phone. Researchers state that these malicious sites were programmed to assess the Apple devices that loaded them and compromise the devices with powerful monitoring malware if possible. Once the malware was installed, it could monitor live location data, grab photos, contacts, passwords, or other sensitive information from the iOS Keychain.
So, what makes this attack unique? For starters, this exploitation campaign hides in plain sight, uploading information without any encryption. If a user monitored their network traffic, they would notice activity as their data was being uploaded to the hacker’s server. Additionally, a user would be able to see suspicious activity if they connected their device to their computer and reviewed console logs. Console logs show the codes for the programs being run on the device. However, since this method would require a user to take the extra step of plugging their iPhone into a computer, it’s highly unlikely that they would notice the suspicious activity.
Although iOS exploits usually require a variety of complexities to be successful, this exploitation campaign proves that iOS hacking is very much alive and kicking. So, what can Apple users do to help ward off these kinds of attacks? Here’s how you can help keep your device secure:
- Install automatic updates. In your device settings, choose to have automatic updates installed on your device. This will ensure that you have the latest security patches for vulnerabilities like the ones leveraged in these exploit chains as soon as they’re available.