Google hacker point ‘Wormable’ WiFi Exploit to Hack iPhones

Google Project Zero white-hat hacker Ian Beer on Tuesday disclosed details of a now-patched critical “wormable” iOS bug that could have made it possible for a remote attacker to gain complete control of any device in the vicinity over WiFi.

The exploit makes it possible to “view all the photos, read all the email, copy all the private messages and monitor everything which happens on [the device] in real-time,” said Beer in a lengthy blog post detailing his six-month-long efforts into building a proof-of-concept single-handedly.

The flaw (tracked as CVE-2020-3843) was addressed by Apple in a series of security updates pushed as part of iOS 13.5 and macOS Catalina 10.15.5 in May earlier this year.

“A remote attacker may be able to cause unexpected system termination or corrupt kernel memory,” the maker noted in its advisory, adding the “double free issue was addressed with improved memory management.”

The vulnerability stems from a “fairly trivial buffer overflow programming error” in a WiFi driver associated with Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL), a proprietary mesh networking protocol developed by Apple for use in AirDrop, AirPlay, among others, enabling easier communications between Apple devices.

In a nutshell, the zero-click exploit uses a setup consisting of an iPhone 11 Pro, Raspberry Pi, and two different WiFi adaptors to achieve arbitrary kernel memory read and write remotely, leveraging it to inject shellcode payloads into the kernel memory via a victim process, and escape the process’ sandbox protections to get hold of user data.

Put differently, the attacker targets the AirDrop BTLE framework to enable the AWDL interface by brute-forcing a contact’s hash value from a list of 100 randomly generated contacts stored in the phone, then exploits the AWDL buffer overflow to gain access to the device and run an implant as root, giving the malicious party full control over the user’s personal data, including emails, photos, messages, iCloud data, and more.

Although there’s no evidence that the vulnerability was exploited in the wild, the researcher noted that “exploit vendors seemed to take notice of these fixes.”

This is not the first time security flaws have been uncovered in Apple’s AWDL protocol. Last July, researchers from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, revealed vulnerabilities in AWDL that enabled attackers to track users, crash devices, and even intercept files transferred between devices via man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.

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