Google researcher discovers new security feature in iOS

With the launch of iOS 14 last fall, Apple incorporated a new security system for iPhones and iPads, designed to protect users from attacks made through the iMessage instant messaging client.

Baptized BlastDoor, this new iOS security feature was discovered by Samuel Groß, a security researcher with Project Zero, a Google security team tasked with finding vulnerabilities in common software.

Groß said the new BlastDoor service is a basic sandbox, a type of security service that runs code separately from the rest of the operating system.

iOS already has several such mechanisms, but BlastDoor is a new addition that only works at the iMessage app level.

Its role is to take incoming messages, decompress them and process their content in a secure and isolated environment, where malicious code hidden in a message will not be able to interact with or harm the underlying operating system or recover the data. of the user.


Image: Google Project Zero

The need for a service like BlastDoor had become evident when several security researchers pointed out in the past that the iMessage service did not properly clean up incoming user data.

Over the past three years, security researchers or malicious attackers have discovered Remote Code Execution (RCE) bugs in iMessage and have exploited these bugs to develop exploits that have allowed them to take control of an iPhone simply by sending a text, photo or video to someone’s device.

The latest of these attacks took place last year, during the summer, and was detailed in a Citizen Lab report titled “The Great iPwn”, which describes a hacking campaign that targeted staff and journalists in the area. ‘Al Jazeera.

Groß said he chose to look into the inner workings of iOS 14 after reading in the Citizen Lab report that the 0day flaws used by attackers stopped working after the launch of iOS 14, which included apparently an improvement in security tools.

After analyzing how iOS 14 works for a week, Groß believes that Apple has finally listened to the security research community and improved the handling of iMessage inbound content by adding the BlastDoor sandbox to the iMessage source code.

“Overall, these changes are probably the best approach, given the need for backward compatibility, and they should have a significant impact on the security of iMessage and the platform as a whole,” Groß said. in a blog post today.

Source: “.com”

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