iOS 7 Security Flaw Found, Stored Email Attachments Unencrypted
A new security flaw with iOS 7 has been found by security researcher Andreas Kurtz, who’s known to have also found and reported a number security issues to Apple before. The new flaw, which affects iOS versions 7.0.4 and later, leaves attachments unencrypted when their stored locally on the device. This potentially allows hackers to gain access and retrieve any stored attachments on iPhones, iPads, or iPods (touch) that run the affected iOS versions.
Kurtz discovered and confirmed the issue in iOS 7 by browsing through the e-mail folder of an IMAP account he created on an iPhone 4 running iOS 7.1 and 7.1.1, he discovered the e-mail attachments stored on the device were left unencrypted and easily retrievable. He also replicated the issue on an iPhone 5s and an iPad 2 running an older iOS 7 version 7.0.4.
“I verified this issue by restoring an iPhone 4 (GSM) device to the most recent iOS versions (7.1 and 7.1.1) and setting up an IMAP email account1, which provided me with some test emails and attachments. Afterwards, I shut down the device and accessed the file system using well-known techniques (DFU mode, custom ramdisk, SSH over usbmux). Finally, I mounted the iOS data partition and navigated to the actual email folder. Within this folder, I found all attachments accessible without any encryption/restriction.”
Kurtz mentioned that he has reported the issue to Apple and the company has responded that they were aware of this issue although did not issue a schedule for when the flaw is expected to be patched. In the meantime, he recommends that users disable mail synchronization until Apple has fixed the vulnerability.
This issue is one of many major flaws Apple’s latest mobile operating system has faced including a keylogging security flaw back in February and just last month a flaw that bypasses Apple’s Find My iPhone anti-theft feature was discovered.