Apple Inc. is working on an anti-theft measure that will take a thief’s picture and fingerprint when they steal an iPhone. However, physical theft of iPhone is the least of Apple’s worry now – an Israeli firm has created a tool for hacking EVERY iPhone. The iphone maker prides itself on the security of its devices and the firm has been at loggerheads with governments and security agencies over its vow to keep user data private and secure.
Apple’s reputation for data security is fading
On Thursday, news broke that NSO Group, an Israeli cybersecurity firm has found security flaws in the iPhone. The security firm, which provides hacking services to governments has extended its hacking skills to erase Apple’s illusion of security on the iPhone.
It is hard to know exactly what NSO Group does; it doesn’t even have a website. However, the firm describes itself as at “a leader in the field of cyber warfare” with a proprietary hacking tool called “Pegasus”. Pegasus can monitor a device and extract data from it using “via untraceable commands” deployed with “remote and stealth.”
The New York Times notes that the latest hack of the iPhone “can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user.” More so, cybersecurity experts are also astonished at the ruthless efficacy of the NSO Group hack. Mike Murray, a security researcher with Lookout observes that “We realized that we were looking at something that no one had ever seen in the wild before… Literally a click on a link to jailbreak an iPhone in one step. One of the most sophisticated pieces of cyberespionage software we’ve ever seen.”
One of the major reasons behind the success of the iPhone is the level of its security in relation to phones on other mobile ecosystems. Apple has built a strong marketing message that positions the iPhone as the perfect device beyond the reach of the “Big Brother” tendencies of governments and security agents.
Of course, hackers (white hat and black hat) have found vulnerabilities in the iPhone in many instances; yet, Apple has been quick to fix such weakness and keep the iPhone secure. Users need not worry about the NSO iPhone hack because Apple has rolled out an update to patch up the weak points in its devices. Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman says “we advise all of our customers to always download the latest version of iOS to protect themselves against potential security exploits.”
Stealing an iPhone just got harder
Apple should be given credit for its effort to ensure security of its devices – the firm is making efforts to ensure that its devices are secure on the software and hardware level. Apple has reportedly filed a patent application for capture pictures and fingerprint when an iPhone is stolen. In the patent filing, Apple maintains that its devices “may determine to capture biometric information in response to the occurrence of one or more trigger conditions.
The new feature is still a patent filing application and it might not make it out to the finished product in an iPhone. However, experts have observed that Apple might open another Pandora’s box of technical, ethical and security challenges with new security feature. On the technical front, Apple’s touch ID technology is still in “infancy” and it is doubtful that the Touch ID would be efficient enough to capture the fingerprints of someone who is not making a conscious effort to have their fingerprint on the device.