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New iPhone security flaw lets anyone access messages and photos without your PIN

Published Nov 18th, 2016 10:31AM EST

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Yes, there’s a new iOS flaw that can let someone access sensitive personal iPhone data by bypassing the passcode that encrypts the device. But don’t freak out just yet, as this security flaw probably not affect anyone and Apple will surely patch it soon.

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As explained by DigiWorthy, the procedure needed to fight your way past the iPhone’s lock screen looks like a recipe for a Harry Potter magic trick. You need physical access to someone’s phone to pull it off, you need plenty of time, and you need to follow a series of 16 complex steps in this particular order:

  1. Find out if Siri is enabled on the phone. If it’s not, the whole hack stops here.
  2. If you don’t know it, find out the victim’s phone number by asking Siri Who Am I?
  3. Call the victim’s iPhone via regular phone call of FaceTime. Choose FaceTime if you’re calling an iPad.
  4. Click Message on the targeted iPhone, then Custom, so that you reach the New Message screen.
  5. Activate Siri with the home button and ask her to Turn on Voice over.
  6. Go back to the iMessage screen.
  7. Double tap the bar where the contact info is.
  8. Hold your finger on that bar and click on the keyboard at the same time.
  9. If successful, you’ll be able to type up in the top bar – that’s something that shouldn’t happen. If unsuccessful, you’ll have to repeat steps 7 and 8 above until you get it right. “Keep trying until you see a slide-in effect on the screen above the keyboard,” DigiWorthy says.
  10. Ask Siri to Turn off VoiceOver.
  11. Click the Home button.
  12. Type the first letter of a contact’s name.
  13. Tap the circular i icon to get to the contact info.
  14. Create a new contact.
  15. Select Add photo.
  16. Tap on Choose photo.

This is how you can see any photo on the iPhone even though the device is technically locked. Selecting any contact would also let you view conversations with that person.

A video from EverythingApplePro shows you this entire process, and the trick works on any iOS device running iOS 8.0 or later. That probably includes that San Bernardino iPhone the FBI wanted to break into, by the way.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.