Two Great Apps Arrive To Stop Hackers Spying On Your iPhone
May 10, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

Two Great Apps Arrive To Stop Hackers Spying On Your iPhone

Apple provides plenty of protection for iPhone users, as the FBI learned over the last few months. But it can never offer total security.

That’s why pro iOS hackers like Stefan Esser are around to poke holes in Apple’s operating system and provide tools to highlight security concerns. His company’s latest creation, SektionEins’ plainly-named System and Security Info, is one of the most in-depth security apps available for the average iPhone user. Not only does it seek out unsolicited jailbreaks – where the device is quietly rooted to peel away Apple protections – but also flags when other applications are behaving suspiciously.

Whilst many apps already provide jailbreak detection, Esser told FORBES most simply look for certain files that indicate a jailbreak. But his app can seek out files that show what exact jailbreak was used and checks Apple’s normal security layers are still intact. That includes validating that the root partition (the separated core of iOS) is protected from hackers trying to alter code, and checking if the code has been signed and verified by Apple. The app also detects tampered signatures.

“[The app] will… easily detect private jailbreaks that make use of public iOS exploitation tricks. It will furthermore detect completely private jailbreaks if they do not completely hide themselves in the kernel or make their userland processes completely invisible. The tool will of course not be able to defeat targeted attacks against the tool itself,” Esser told FORBES over email. The company made it clear in a disclaimer that attackers could “adapt and specifically detect and subvert our tool.”

SektionEins, in a blog post released today, said its tool was the only one in Apple’s App Store that can detail a list of running processes in iOS 9. The checks on applications’ behaviour should provide users with a layer of malware protection, as they will flag any software acting in a suspicious manner.

Despite concerns Apple would not allow the app, it was cleared on the App Store in just two days, Esser said. The concerns arose, he added, as Apple claimed at WWDC 2015 it blocked certain application programming interfaces (APIs) – the portion of code that allows for outside access of certain functions – to prevent malware from accessing other apps. Esser said Apple only did so partially and so he was able to have his app grab information on other software running on iOS, hence its ability to list processes.

Apple had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

A free VPN

Today saw the release of another useful security app for iOS. Browser maker Opera has launched a free virtual private network (VPN). VPNs route traffic through different servers in order to mask the origin IP address of the user, whilst encrypting traffic. In Opera’s case, it allows users to choose one out of five locations for their final IP address: USA, Canada, Germany, Singapore and The Netherlands. Opera has added an extra feature to its VPN, as it removes ad-tracking cookies for some extra privacy.

VPNs have been used as both a privacy tool and as a way of bypassing blocks for accessing content from certain locations. But the likes of the BBC and Netflix NFLX -0.31%are now taking action, preventing anyone using a VPN from watching their streaming content. Unsurprisingly, they’ve faced criticism from privacy-conscious folk concerned people are being asked to turn off their privacy-enhancing tools.

Source | Forbes