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AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

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AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

iPhone Encryption Is For Naught Under Linux

There are reports that an iPhone will reveal its content when hooked up to the newest release of Ubuntu Linux.  This, despite the fact that the latest iPhone generation--iPhone GS--comes with built-in hardware encryption.  Goes to show that "having disk encryption" and "having your data protected" are not always the same thing.

Ubuntu 10.4 Lucid Lynx Compromises iPhone

When an iPhone is hooked up to a computer with the latest version of Ubuntu linux, all the security in place falls by the wayside.  Techie-buzz.com put it the best:

Apple has more than once, boasted about the hardware data encryption used on its flagship iPhone. The hardware encryption uses a 256-bit AES and is an in your face feature as it cannot be disabled by users even if they want to.

An iPhone can be connected to a PC just like any other device though the connection requires the standard methods of authentication by a passcode and an initial pairing. Further, connecting a locked iPhone to a computer is also not possible.

As security researchers Marienfeldt and Herbeck found out though, Lucid Lynx, the latest Ubuntu distro, makes a mockery of the iPhone's security:

I uncovered a data protection vulnerability [9], which  I could reproduce on 3 other non jail broken 3GS iPhones (MC 131B, MC132B) with different iPhone OS versions installed (3.1.3-7E18 modem firmware 05.12.01 and version 3.1.2 -7D11, modem 05.11.07) , all passcode (4 digits) protected which means the vulnerability bypasses authentication for various data where people most likely rely on data protection through encryption and do not expect that authentication is not in place.

To clarify, the given file access is read and write !

The unprotected iPhone 3GS mounting is “limited” to the DCIM folder under Ubuntu < 10.04 LTS, Apple Macintosh, Windows 2000 SP2 and Windows 7. The way Ubuntu Lucid Lynx handles the iPhone 3GS [6,7,8] allows to get more content.[Bernd Marienfeldt]

So, Where's the Encryption, Then?

Stuck in a bad implementation, apparently.  According to Chester Wisniewski at Sophos, the thing that he noticed about iPhones:

If you turn on an iPhone it boots all the way up and allows access from USB.

If the device boots, it must be able to access the encryption key without a passphrase. In turn this means it is as good as unencrypted as soon as it is turned on.[Sophos]

Contrast this with full disk encryption like AlertBoot on a laptop or desktop computer: the machine will not boot up until the correct password or passphrase is typed in.  This is called pre-boot authorization, and is meant to provide better protection where complete disk encryption is used.

Of course, the trials and tribulations of the iPhone's encryption is nothing new.  Within days of its debut last year, security experts were commenting on how the iPhone's encryption was broken.


Related Articles and Sites:
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/ubuntu-lucid-lynx-1004-can-read-your-iphones-secrets/8424

 
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About sang_lee

Sang Lee is a Senior Account Manager and Security Analyst with AlertBoot, Inc., the leading provider of managed endpoint security services, based in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Lee helps with the deployment and ongoing support of the AlertBoot disk encryption managed service. Prior to working at AlertBoot, Mr. Lee served in the South Korean Navy. He holds both a B.S. and an M.S. from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.