Countering KeyRaider: Protecting your iPhone from hackers

Enter passcode screen of an iPhoneApple’s reputation for having better mobile device security than its competitors took a hit this summer when hackers stole 225,000 Apple accounts and passwords, Palo Alto Networks security experts disclosed at the end of August.

Seeking to download apps and make in-app purchases without paying for them, the hackers created a malware called KeyRaider that targets iOS devices distributed in China through third-party repositories for Cydia, a program used to install software on jail-broken Apple devices. Attaching itself to Cydia, the malware intercepts iTunes traffic to steal account usernames and passwords. KeyRaider then robs push notification service certificates and private keys, shares stolen App Store purchasing information, and disables local and remote unlocking capability. Adding insult to injury, KeyRaider then uploads stolen data to its own server, which has further vulnerabilities that expose the data to third parties. An estimated 20,000 hackers are now using the 225,000 stolen accounts, and some customers report having their devices held for ransom.

On the heels of this, hackers have discovered a vulnerability in Apple’s latest iOS 9 upgrade, which over half of iPhone and iPad customers are now using. As TechnoBuffalo reported, the vulnerability enables someone to bypass device passcodes and see your contacts and photos by entering an incorrect PIN number multiple times to hack into Siri and gain access to other applications.

These are only a couple of examples of Apple’s increasing security problems. As Apple devices have grown more popular, hackers have turned more attention to them. In 2014, the Mac OSX and Apple iOS had more frequent and more severe vulnerabilities than any other operating systems, according to a GFI Software report. Apple iPhone users and employers who have BYOD policies need to start paying more attention to making sure their devices are secure.

Keep up with the Latest Security Updates

Keeping up with the latest security updates will go a long way toward securing your devices. This includes keeping up with the latest firmware releases and downloading the latest security patches as well as keeping up with news that lets you know about solutions to reported issues. For instance, if you have KeyRaider, you can fix it by deleting .dylib files from the Cydia MobileSubstrate Dynamic Libraries subdirectory, as Tech Times outlines in more detail. To fix the iOS 9 vulnerability, you can disable access to Siri while your phone is locked, as BGR explains. Following a cybersecurity blog such as LifeLock Unlocked can keep you up to date on the latest security news you need to know about.

Follow Security Best Practices

Alex Savitsky of security provider Kaspersky Lab outlines some of the most important steps you can take to improve the security of your iPhone. Passcode management forms the foundation of good security. Turn your passcode requirement option on and choose a 6-digit alphanumeric code instead of a simple 4-digit one. Adjust your passcode “allow access when locked” settings so that your code does not display on locked screen notifications. Enhance your passcode security by managing your Apple ID password and security settings to require a two-step verification code when you log in to manage your Apple ID, sign into iCloud, or make App Store, iTunes or iBook purchases.

iphone 6 securityYou should also disable features that can be accessed without using a passcode. For example, Siri can be used to bypass your passcode unless you adjust your settings. Change your passcode “Allow accessed when locked” settings to turn unlocked access to Siri off. Under general settings for Siri, turn “Hey Siri” off as well.

Using a virtual private network will also enhance your security. This will require you or your company to set up service with a VPN provider. After setting up your service, you can enter your VPN configuration information under your general settings.

Managing how your iPhone interacts with your network is also important. Adjust your Wi-Fi settings so that your phone must ask you to join wireless networks instead of automatically connecting. Change your iCloud settings so that your phone does not automatically sync.

Your browser is another security vulnerability you can shore up. Turn off your Safari general settings’ autofill option. You might also consider changing your Safari privacy and security settings so that “Do Not Track” is on and cookies are blocked. However, blocking cookies can make it harder for you to use certain websites, so consider your individual needs when weighing this option.

Another option that has pros and cons is changing your privacy settings so that your iPhone cannot let apps access private data such as contact lists and messages. This will make your data more secure, but it may cause some inconvenience that will prevent you from using certain apps, so consider your priorities when deciding how to adjust this setting.