Apple has finally broken its week-long silence over the location-tracking database scandal surrounding iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 and higher. The company states that it never has, and never plans to, track users’ iDevices, and that the purpose of the database file in question — consolidated.db — is to “help your iPhone rapidly and accurately calculate its location when requested.” The company noted that a software update will limit the size of the location file and be available in the next few weeks — the next major iOS release will add a layer of encryption to the file. Apple’s full statement is after the break. Have a look and let us know what you think. More →
It looks as though software developer James Laird has opened Pandora’s box for Apple’s AirPlay music streaming system. Frustrated by the fact that an AirPort Express emulator did not exist, Laird began to look for a solution that would allow him to stream iTunes music without the use of AirPlay. “I was disappointed to find that Apple used a public-key crypto scheme, and there’s a private key hiding inside the ApEx [Airport Extreme],” wrote Laird. “So I took it apart (I still have scars from opening the glued case!), dumped the ROM, and reverse engineered the keys out of it.” Laird has published the private key in an open source software project dubbed ShairPort (clever). The software, which is built in Perl and C, will allow users to stream iTunes content to hardware and software designed to talk to ShairPort. Apple has opened up its AirPlay system to third-parties in recent months, but this blows the doors wide open for all those looking to circumvent that red tape-filled process. More →
In a recent blog post, Twitter announced a new measure aimed at keeping its users data a bit more secure as it travels over the wire. Via the “Settings” preference pane, users can now force Twitter communications to always travel over a secure, HTTPS connection. “This will improve the security of your account and better protect your information if you’re using Twitter over an unsecured Internet connection,” writes Twitter. “In the future, we hope to make HTTPS the default setting.” Enabling the feature also secures traffic traveling to and from the official Twitter applications for both the iPhone and iPad — it will not, however, automatically enable HTTPS on the mobile Twitter website. Unless you have a specific reason not to enable the feature, we highly recommend it. More →
Today, AT&T announced AT&T Encrypted Mobile Voice; “the first carrier-provided two factor encryption service for calls on the AT&T network.” The service, which will be available for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices, combines KoolSpan’s TrustChip and SRA International’s One Vault Voice. As the press release explains:
TrustChip is a fully hardened, self-contained crypto engine inserted into the smartphone’s microSD slot. Embedded with AT&T TrustGroup, the KoolSpan TrustChip offers the strength of additional hardware authentication, enables encrypted calling interoperability with a defined group of other AT&T TrustGroup users and can be managed over-the-air. […] SRA’s One Vault Voice integrates the security functions of the TrustChip with a feature rich application that provides an intuitive user interface. This powerful combination allows users to easily place and receive encrypted calls by integrating with the mobile phone’s standard operation and address book to provide a user friendly and seamless security option.
Probably not something you are going to be using, but pretty cool nonetheless. Hit the read link for the full press release. More →
In accordance with government wishes, Saudi Arabia’s three mobile wireless companies have shut down BlackBerry messaging services to their users. The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission cited security concerns when it announced on August 3rd that: “the manufacturer of the devices [RIM] couldn’t meet the regulatory requirements of the commission and it is not in accordance with the regulations and conditions of licenses issued to service providers, at its present state.” The AFP reports that any wireless company that does not turn off the encrypted messaging service could face up to a $1.3 million fine. The BlackBerry devices are still able to make and receive phone calls. Services are due to be suspended in the United Arab Emirates beginning on October 11th. More →
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has issued a statement to its customers letting them know just how secure their data is. The handset maker reminded everyone that “no one, including RIM” could access BlackBerry user data as it is encrypted without a master key, and that it would “be unable to accommodate any request” for access to the data. RIM continued, the system is designed “to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information under any circumstances.” The statement comes on the heels of this weekend’s decision by the United Arab Emirates to suspend BlackBerry data services in the country due to reasons related to national security. RIM has not released an official statement regarding talks with the UAE citing the confidentiality of discussions at the government level. More →
Chatter on the forums suggests that the latest update hitting the DROID X has not fixed the WiFi connectivity problem many users were reporting. Affected DROID X owners report that their handsets have difficulty connecting to a WiFi router and poor network performance once a connection has been established. Several users report that changing the encryption from AES to TKIP has alleviated the problem, while others note that changing your router to 802.11g instead of 802.11n has decreased the number of network disconnects. Anyone with a DROID X currently experiencing this problem?
Thanks, Goreja! More →
A major security flaw has been uncovered in the Apple iPhone 3GS this week after two security experts discovered it was possible to bypass the device’s security and gain nearly full read access using Ubuntu Lucid Lynx. Perhaps even more frightening is the fact that the two believe they’re nearing the ability to write data as well. Said Bernd Marienfeldt, one of the two gentleman responsible for uncovering the flaw:
I uncovered a data protection vulnerability, which I could reproduce on 3 other non jail broken 3GS iPhones (MC 131B, MC132B) with different iPhone OS versions installed (3.1.3-7E18 modem firmware 05.12.01 and version 3.1.2 -7D11, modem 05.11.07), all PIN code protected which means the vulnerability bypasses authentication for various data where people most likely rely on data protection through encryption and do not expect that authentication is not in place. […] This data protection flaw exposes music, photos, videos, podcasts, voice recordings, Google safe browsing database, game contents… by [sic] in my opinion the quickest compromising read/write access discovered so far, without leaving any track record by the attacker. It’s about to imagine how many enterprises (e.g. Fortune 100) actually do rely on the expectation that their iPhone 3GS’s whole content is protected by encryption with an PIN code based authentication in place to unlock it.
Marienfeldt and his partner Jim Herbeck notified Apple of the flaw, and according to then, “Apple could reproduce the described serious issue and believes to understand why this can happen but cannot provide timing or further details on the release of a fix.” Let’s hope the new data protection feature in iPhone OS 4.0 does the trick.
Remember all of the hoopla surrounding RIM’s hostile takeover of Certicom? Well the Ontario Securities Commission sure does, as it’s alleging that former RIM VP Paul Donald personally profited from the deal thanks to some insider trading. The OSC claims that back in August of 2008, Donald was attending a RIM function where RIM top brass informed him that they were actively trying to acquire the software encryption specialists Certicom — a company whose technology is used in every single BlackBerry smartphone. Although Donald was told that Certicom was resisting the takeover, he quickly purchased 200,000 shares in the company after learning it was “dramatically undervalued,” and shortly thereafter RIM announced its intentions to purchase. That announcement also had RIM run afoul of the OSC, as Certicom’s board asked the commission to block the buyout on the grounds that Certicom investors would get a raw deal. Despite this, the aquisition eventually went through which saw Donald net $295,000 in profit. Donald, who the OSC said acted, “with knowledge of material facts about Certicom that had not been generally disclosed,” and whose purchase of the shares were, “contrary to the public interest,” will be front and center as the OSC holds a hearing on June 7th. More →
A five-month old ITC patent dispute between Research In Motion and Omaha-based Prism Technologies has been settled. Back in December of 2009, Prism had asked the ITC to block the importation of BlackBerry smartphones, servers and sofrware into the U.S. on the grounds that RIM was violating one of Prism’s patents. At the heart of the dispute was a Prism patent described as providing an “innovative way of controlling access to protected electronically stored data and information requested by a device using an Internet Protocol network.” The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but documents filed with the ITC reveal that the companies have entered into a “license and settlement agreement.” More →
In a move to shed light on the vulnerability of GSM wireless networks, encryption expert Karsten Nohl, with the aid of 24 fellow hackers, was able to compile the multitude of algorithms behind the twenty one year old, 64-bit encryption scheme used to encrypt 80% of the world’s cellular GSM phone calls. The algorithm’s code book, comprising 2TB worth of data, has been published by Nohl and is now available on the Internet through BitTorrent. This is not the first time GSM was “cracked”. In 2003, the method by which GSM’s encryption code could be cracked was uncovered by a team of Israeli researchers and in 2008, David Hulton and Steve Muller presented at Black Hat a technique for the successful interception and decryption of a GSM stream using $1,000 of hardware and a half hour of time. Now in 2009, we have the binary code log that could potentially make GSM decryption faster and easier than ever. Before everybody panics, it is important to point out that the GSM algorithm that was cracked was the older and less secure 64-bit A5/1 algorithm, not the newer 128-bit A5/3 algorithm. Unfortunately, GSM carriers have been slow to adopt this new 128-bit encryption standard but Nohl’s disclosure may be the kick in the butt these lazy carriers need to beef up their security. More →
It has been long argued that the A5/1 encryption standard used to secure GSM traffic from eavesdropping is, in fact, insecure, and California based security firm H4RDW4RE is pioneering an effort to hammer that point home by cracking the encryption scheme. The A5/1 cipher is based on a 64-bit key — each cell phone has a 64-bit secret key which is also known by the connected GSM network. When you initiate a call the GSM network uses the secret key to generate a session key and encrypt your phone call. H4RDW4RE’s approach will be to crack this session key using a compressed and custom version of the A5/1’s 128-petabyte code book. Yikes. The aim of the project is to: take the vast code book and compress it down to around 2 or 3 terabytes of data, organize the data into rainbow tables, have these tables searched by a free P2P open-source program (much like SETI@home) in order to cipher session keys. Session keys will, theoretically, provide the ability to decrypt and listen in on GSM phone calls. H4RDW4RE’s goal is to push GSM vendors to finally admit that the technology is flawed and move to the more secure A5/3 code book, which is a 128-bit cipher, and already used by newer cellular technologies such as UTMS. Pretty powerful way to send a message, it sure does beat a letter writing campaign… Hit up the article for more details about the project. More →
So the keynote didn’t deliver what most people were counting on (read: anything exciting for the average consumer) but nonetheless there was still quite a bit of neat stuff to see. After the keynote, a few meetings with RIM VPs and Managers and a few cans of Diet Pepsi in the press room, we made our way out onto the Solutions Showcase floor to take a look at what the best and brightest third parties had to offer. Here’s a quick recap of some of the stuff that excites us the most.