Over the past few days there has been a growing mix of excitement, speculation and further rumours relating to the imminent release of Apple iOS 4.2 for the iPad and iPhone. I would be a rich man if I got a dollar for every time someone has asked me over the past few weeks if I’ve heard an official date for 4.2!
Today – the Telegraph published details quoting that a reliable source “…close to Apple” has confirmed the iOS 4.2 release is now due…. drum roll please…… on the 24th of November.
So What’s all the fuss about with 4,2 anyway? We’ll – the reason why there’s growing excitement from iPad users, is that the 4.2 release will bring them up to speed with all the 4.1 features that iPhone users have been used to for a while – specifically multi-tasking.
There are also a number of new features coming with 4.2 including Airplay and Airprint – which are generating a lot of interest. For musicians – there’s also a big feature that hasn’t received much media coverage yet, but will be a game changer from a music studio integration perspective – the introduction of MIDI into 4.2.
From a security perspective there are some further improvements, however unfortunately it doesn’t look as though there are any changes to the main issues that corporates focus on when considering intergration into their enterprise - i.e. the issue around the update process (being a manual one), as well as the fact that it is still possible to easily jailbreak.
So… there you have it – November the 24th is said to be the new official iOS 4.2 release date! Apple of course have not confirmed or denied anything, so will have to wait until next week.
Over the past few months there’s been a huge surge of interest from the majority of large enterprises and financial institutions globally relating to mobile convergence, the integration of devices into the enterprise for both personal & corporate use and – more importantly… the operational and security enterprise issues introduced as a result.
I’ve therefore spent a lot of time talking directly to CIO / Director level execs about the blurring line between business and personal technology in the mobile space, and the inter-related security and operational considerations.
The majority of people I know in the industry agree that the next year or so will be the “game changer” from an enterprise / personal convergence perspective, especially considering the impact we’ve seen following the introduction of Apple iPads. Although it’s largely been consumer driven, and pushed into the enterprise from top down, the mix of the various competitor devices will change the face of mobile computing. There’s lots of vendors out there who are competing for their spot – including Blackberry and the Playbook, Samsung’s Galaxy, and the various Android options about to hit the Australian market.
Thanks to the global reach of social media and online networking – it’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to pose questions related to this subject directly to those who are influential in this topic. Recently I was given the opportunity to talk to Ed Amoroso – Chief Security Officer for AT&T.
In the video below, Ed responds to one of my questions and gives his views as to the challenges and security considerations in the blurring mobile space. Amoroso is obviously very passionate about this topic:
If you have a few million dollars to spare, I’d highly recommend getting in touch and ultimately jumping in on the Mobile Device Management game. In a nutshell – until the big device & telco players sort things out – the MDM platforms will bridge the gap between EAS and what Enterprises really need from an enterprise mobile security management perspective. However obviously the big IT security vendors are already in on the game, including McAfee (who bought out the leading MDM vendor Trust Digital), as well as MDM leaders such as Good Technologies, BoxTone, MobileIron, etc to name a few. Undoubtedly there will probably be more than 200 players and growing in this space over the next couple of months.
Until Apple start to truly focus on the enterprise rather than the consumer – we will need to rely on MDM platforms to better secure Apple iPhone & iPad devices, as well as providing the flexibility to provision enterprise access for more endpoints, including the Blackberry Playpad, Samsung Galaxy, and the latest Android devices.
The next year will be a huge change in the IT mobile device space! If anyone wants to talk more about this, I have a few hours of presentations I can talk you through! From an Australian perspective, I’m sure in the lead up to Christmas the local telco providers such as Optus and Telstra will be hyping things up from a Android adoption perspective in a big way!
Thanks to Ed Amoroso for responding directly – much appreciated.
Although Microsoft are hitting the headlines with details of their new and exciting Windows Phone 7 offering in Australia, they are also hitting the news for other reasons…
Microsoft today released the largest number of Windows Updates – a whopping 49 in total, covering 16 security bulletins. This October 2010 security bulletin includes the greatest number of patches released in a single month, and beats last August’s huge patch release, which included 34 updates.
Patches include fixes for Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server R2, .Net, Media Player versions 9 to 11, and Internet Explorer versions 6 to 8.
Four of the bulletins are rated as critical. There’s also a fix (MS10-073) to plug an issue exploited by the Stuxnet worm, in addition to two fixes Microsoft delivered back in September (MS10-046 and MS10-061).
Apple today release their much anticipated version of their iOS – the operating system for iPhone users – version 4.1.
This version brings a multitude of bug fixes and improvements including high dynamic range photography, Game Centre and new iTunes 10 related features. iPhone 3G users will also be relieved – as the issues relating to slow performance after installing iOS4.0 have now also been fixed.
To download, ensure you are running the latest version of iTunes (10), and check for updates. The update is fairly large, so may take a bit of time for users to download, backup and install.
Before we go any further re Jailbreaking I just wanted to re-itterate that I personally do not jailbreak my devices, or recommend doing so. I do know of some people who do not hesistate to jailbreak – so I thought it worth pointing out a few things to those that do before considering updating to the official 4.1 release. There’s one key point that most people considering jailbreaking may not understand…
If you accept the official Apple 4.1 update, you might not be able to future jailbreak your iPhone, as there’s currently no known way to revert the baseband (which is included in this release). If you update the baseband there’s no way to use the ultrasn0w unlock.
In other words, if you’re a jailbreaker iPhone owner you should wait for the dev-team release before upgrading to 4.1, rather than upgrading to 4.1 and then looking for a way to unlock.
It might be worth clarifying that this is different from the recent jailbreak holes which were discovered – and exploited over the web as demonstrated by Jailbreakme.com. These two vulenerabilities were reliant on a couple of bugs in iOS, which basically was quickly fixed by Apple to stop jailbreaking using this particular process.
The dev team suggest that the issue for Apple is that the boot ROM iOS jailbreak exploit targets a low-level part of the operating system, which essentially means that Apple won’t be able to stop jailbreakers using this method in the future unless they make some sort of significant hardware based change. All current iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads that have shipped since November contain the same component affected.
From a security perspective until Apple close off the jailbreak capability – the device will not be considered a true enterprise class offering… something which some enterprise security type people would be keen to see for wider enterprise adoption!
Several people have been asking about the current state of play with regards to iOS 4.0.2 and if the iPhone Dev Team are going to release a 4.0.2 specific jailbreak.
For those not aware, the 4.0.2 iOS release fixes two major vulnerabilities which essentially allow a web based exploit – as used by www.jailbreakme.com. This method could be used for other malicious purposes other than a iPhone or iPad owner wishing to jailbreak their own device.
In a recent blog post, the Iphone Dev Team have announced that they are not going to release a 4.0.2 version, but instead will be focussing on iOS 4.1, a firmware currently in its final beta stages.
If the cat & mouse game escalates too quickly, especially during beta FW periods, nobody but Apple benefits. For this reason, there won’t be a 4.0.2/3.2.2 jailbreak specifically during the period where 4.0.2/3.2.2 is the latest public release. At best, some future 4.1x FW jailbreak *may* be compatible with 4.0.2/3.2.2 (but don’t count on that).
There’s an interesting new and scary product on the market called the “Apple iPad Spystick USB” made by Brick House Security. By the very nature of it’s title I’m sure you can guess what it can be used for….
Essentially this little thing once plugged in to an iPhone can recover data (included deleted data) from the device.
Here’s a quick overview of some of its features:
Get access to deleted information
Download text messages and view calls made
Recover deleted contacts and calendar items
View pictures and other multimedia
Get access to map history to see locations searched on the iPhone’s map with exact GPS coordinates
Get access to notes, voice memos, multimedia files, and dynamic text data
Downloading data is as simple as attaching the iPhone and iPhone Data Recovery Stick to a computer and pressing start
iPhone information is saved on any computer and can be moved to other drives as a regular file
Looks like an ordinary USB flash drive
One key thing to note is that this product only currently works with iPhones running an older version of the iOS – namely iOS 3.2.1 and earlier. There are rumours of an updated device which will work with the very latest iOS4.0.2, but that’s just hearsay for now!
Last week, two serious vulnerabilities were found in the Apple iOS running on iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, Apple iPads and iPods, which could be exploited by remote attackers to take complete control of a vulnerable device. Apple have now released an update to fix these vulnerabilities.
The first vulnerability is caused by an integer overflow error in the kernal used for handling IOSurface properties, which allows an attacker to gain elevated priviledges and bypass Apple security sandbox restrictions. The second is caused by a memory corruption error when processing Adobe PDF Compact Font Format (CFF), which allows an atttacker to execute arbitrary code. This can be done by tricking a usser into visiting a specially crafted web page using Mobile Safari.
The jailbreakme.com web site uses these methods to remotely jailbreak Apple devices. This is done by redirecting the browser to a specific PDF exploit file crafted for each Apple device model / version, and then a payload is executed. A second stage payload then provides root priviledges for the jailbreak to complete.
This was probably the most serious of vulnerabilities discovered on the Apple OSX to date - and Apple have been quick to respond to this issue.
Users should update their devices as soon as possible:
As I’m sure you’ve seen in the press recently, there’s been a lot of news relating to iPhone 4 web based jailbreaks, the legality of the jailbreak process, and questions on whether people should go down this path and jailbreak their much loved iPad or iPhone device in the first place.
Most people jump straight in to jailbreaking – as they are fully aware of the advantages / pros of jailbreaking their iPhone or iPad device, but do so without being aware of the potential disadvantages / cons. Therefore, before you consider going down either path, I present you with the Jailbreak challenge…
The Jailbreak Challenge:
The challenge is for you to read the complete list, and then give me your vote at the end as to whether after reading all the pros and cons you would consider jailbreaking your iPad or iPhone or not. I’ve tried to be as neutral and unbiased as possible, but factual in the points discussed. I’ve tried to find as many valid pros and cons as possible, and have summarised all of these in a list below.
Rather than provide a list of pros followed by a separate list of cons, I’ve combined them into one alternating list. Reasons why people jailbreak are highlighted in red, and the reasons why people don’t do this are in blue.
Please note – I do not personally encourage anyone to jailbreak their Apple device, however I wish to further understand the drivers as to why people choose to do so in the first place. The intent of this challenge is to take the results, and use them to make further recommendations from an iPhone & iPad enterprise adoption perspective:
Jailbreaking enables an iPhone or iPad user to break the baseband of the device, ultimately allowing them to use the iOS device on any mobile phone carrier of choice. This is more relevant to US users, as currently there is only one carrier – AT&T. To those in Australia extra with multiple providers and unlocked phones, this is not such a big deal.
Once an iPhone or iPad is Jailbroken, a user can then install any applications or make any modifications to the operating system & existing apps. A user can modify / remove security controls such as the “Passcode-lock”, “Auto-lock” etc thus weakening the security of the device and access to it.
Jailbreaking is even easier than ever. You don’t even need to Jailbreak using the traditional method (by restoring the iPhone / iPad and installing a modified version of the iOSX) – you just need to visit jailbreakme.com on the device you wish to jailbreak. Only takes a few minutes using this process and anyone can do it.
Because there is no control or vetting of applications installed on a jailbroken device, there is potential for malware or rouge apps to be installed and run. This increases the risk of a user installing a rogue / bad app, or malware infecting a device as the security features are broken. An example of this is where an iPhone worm propagated through jailbroken iPhones. If you consider the various personal bits of data stored on each device, you wouldn’t want a rogue app to have access to this data or to use your data / device for malicious purposes.
The app store has lots of variety and various content negating the need to jailbreak and install ‘alternate’ apps (e.g. via Cydia). Those who are real tech heads might disagree – however if your the typical end user – aren’t the majority of your needs catered for (and yes I know you have to pay!)?
When jailbroken, you can fully customise your iPhone / iPad, including changing the look and feel of the interface, sounds, mods, utilities etc.
Jailbreaking voids your warrantee with Apple – and they may not assist with any support issues if a jailbroken version of operating system is found on the device. Obviously you could restore your device back to it’s original non jailbroken configuration, however for those who have jailbroken but don’t know how to do this, it may be a concern.
Jailbreaking breaks the security features of the device so you can run illegal / pirated iPhone applications. This is obviously illegal – but another reason why some people choose to jailbreak.
Now that iPhones & iPads are more popular, they have become an increasingly larger target for hackers. More people are therefore trying to find security vulnerabilities with iPhones and are becoming an increasingly large malware target.
Apple are too restrictive with regards to the handling of the app store, censorship and which applications are approved. Jailbreaking gets around this limitation.
You will not be able to install iOSX updates as they come out, as you will have to wait for the latest iOSX release to be jailbroken. Usually iOSX updates provide both functionality updates as well as fix security vulnerabilities. You don’t get either of these until you upgrade and therefore are potentially vulnerable to the security holes.
Depending on the tool used to jailbreak and the level of technical competency there is potential that the end user may ‘brick’ their iPhone or iPad, whereby it is unusable and cannot be restored to it’s original unmodified condition.
Potential to write your own code and run it on your own iPhone / iPad seeing as there is no control of sandboxed secure apps.
Jailbreaking impacts the stability of the iPhone / iPad. Some jailbreak OS users experience unusual issues with the device - ranging from apps freezing, call drop outs, unexpected reboots, and general instability.
So what’s your vote?
Now that you’ve read the entire list above – would you jailbreak your new Apple iPhone / iPad or not? Use the comments link on this page to vote:
“YES” – I’D JAILBREAK
“NO” – I WOULDN’T JAILBREAK
and feel free to add any further comments or feedback.
My main concern is that either way – there is little any enterprise who has adopted Apple devices into their corporate environment can currently do to prevent their staff from jailbreaking devices, and modifying / removing security policies implemented in order to protect the enterprise in the first place. An end user might not care – but the enterprise surely would?
It will be interesting to see how Apple respond to the latest firmware holes, and if one day they finally make their devices secure enough for it no longer to be possible to jailbreak.