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An Apple iOS Update You Can’t Ignore: Zero Day Exploits

By Mary Beth Hamilton | Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

On Thursday, August 25, Apple released iOS 9.3.5, the latest version of its iOS and one that should not be ignored. This update addresses multiple security vulnerabilities – namely three iOS flaws that cybercriminals or governments can use to steal confidential messages and eavesdrop using your device’s camera and microphone. It is recommended that all iOS devices be updated immediately. 

The Story Behind Uncovering the iOS Exploit

Mansoor sms text ios exploit

The story behind the discovery of these iOS exploits provides a glimpse into the lucrative world of cyberwar and cybercriminals.
 
It all started when an internationally recognized human rights defender, Ahmed Mansoor, received two suspicious SMS text messages with hyperlinks. Mansoor identified the messages as questionable and forwarded them to researchers at Citizens Lab and Lookout Security for investigation.
 
Citizens Lab and Lookout, according to their report, “determined that the links led to a chain of zero-day exploits (“zero-days”) that would have remotely jailbroken Mansoor’s stock iPhone 6 and installed sophisticated spyware.” This spyware, known as a government-exclusive “lawful intercept” product, would have made Mansoor’s phone “a digital spy in his pocket” able to use the iPhone’s camera and microphone to monitor activity near the device. It also would have allowed for recording of his WhatsApp and Viber calls, logging of messages sent in mobile chat apps, and tracking of his movements. Scary stuff.

Phishing at Its ‘Finest’

According to a Lookout Security blog post, "the attack sequence, boiled down, is a classic phishing scheme: Send text message, open web browser, load page, exploit vulnerabilities, install persistent software to gather information. This, however, happens invisibly and silently, such that victims do not know they've been compromised."
 
If you haven’t already, now might be a good time to check out the Eze Managed Phishing and Training Service (after you update your iPhone of course).

What did Citizens Lab and Lookout Security Do?

With the serious vulnerabilities uncovered, Citizens Lab and Lookout Security went to Apple with the findings. Apple acted fast and released iOS 9.3.5 to patch the flaws and close the vulnerabilities.

What Must You Do? Update to iOS 9.3.5

You can update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to the latest version of iOS wirelessly. If you can't see the update on your device (Tap Settings > General > Software Update), you can update manually using iTunes. Apple’s instructions on how to update can be found here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204204
 
If you have any questions or require assistance, please reach out to the ECI Global Support Desk HERE.

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