Enterprise IT: Are You Aware of These iOS Enterprise Security Vulnerabilities?

  • December 23, 2019
Secure your Enterprise iOS Devices

Apple devices continue to be the most preferred devices in an enterprise environment, thanks to Apple’s secure framework. Security is one of the most fundamental offerings of Apple. But this doesn’t mean that Apple devices are fully secure. Especially in the enterprise environment, the IT teams have to take key steps to ensure the security of iOS devices for work. 

Enterprise IT needs to stay on top of their iOS device inventory and as they do so, here’s a list of iOS vulnerabilities that they need to be aware of: 

1.Jailbreak:

Jailbreaking or rooting is the process of removing the limitations imposed by Apple on an iOS device. It’s like taking full control of the device bypassing any security compliances. On a jailbroken device, users can install third-party apps, tweaks and remove any restrictions they want.

Coherently, jailbreak opens the door to attackers, as sandboxing no longer works and the file system becomes completely accessible.

Apple never recommends jailbreaking a device. Recently the Checkra1n jailbreak has come into the spotlight, which uses bootrom exploit to provide a permanent jailbreak even on the latest iOS versions. Since bootrom works on the hardware level, devices will be able to get continuous Apple updates.

Enterprise IT can’t always ensure if the device their employees are using isn’t jailbroken until they are managing those devices using an iOS MDM software or have a threat detection solution in place. 

2. Malicious Apps

Apple uses sandboxed architecture to enforce apps to work within its own sandbox. That means one app can’t access other app’s data. This makes it more secure than other operating systems out there.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the application can’t be hacked. The attack vector of malicious apps in iOS devices depends on the state of the device. ‘State’ determines whether the device is jailbroken or not. If it is, then it is open to a wide range of malicious attacks.

3. Vulnerabilities present in outdated OS versions

There is no software which is free from bugs as researchers anyhow find various ways to bypass security measures. However, Apple always ensures that it’s OS remains stable and secure.

One such example of the iOS version prior to 13.3 is AirDoS vulnerability which could render nearby iOS devices unusable. 

Until a few years ago, Apple enforced OS updates on its devices, which ensured security patches and fixes were implemented on each device without additional monitoring. Today, the end-users can push the OS updates for upto 90 days, exposing the device as well as the critical corporate data on it to threats.

This is the reason why admins should keep themselves up to date with the latest CVEs and security advisories. They should be able to enforce the latest OS updates on the devices their employees are using.

4. Applications with known vulnerabilities

The most recent vulnerability in WhatsApp could trigger a stack-based buffer overflow which could lead to DoS or RCE. This affected both Android and iOS WhatsApp applications.

Read more

This was just a recent flaw in one of the famous apps that almost everyone uses. There are plenty of such apps out in the market having vulnerabilities and aren’t updated by the end-user. These apps could potentially attack the data on enterprise iOS devices without a warning. 

The enterprise IT admins can’t claim that the applications installed on the devices are secure just because they installed it from the official App Store. Applications, if not updated in periodically and have known vulnerabilities, are a threat not only to the device security but also a big risk to corporate data on the device. 

Extensive app management and app updates for enterprise iOS devices is highly recommended for security.

5. Human Mistakes

Sometimes the person using the device becomes the biggest threat to enterprise security. There is a possibility that employees willingly/unwillingly share sensitive corporate data which can result in huge data and financial loss. In a few instances, the employees vulnerably share their device passwords or set easy passwords and fall prey to the attackers. If the device gets stolen, the thief will have complete access to it. The enterprise IT should hence be able to enforce passwords, define password complexity and also schedule a regular password update on enterprise iOS devices. 

Moreover, the lack of knowledge of employees towards basic security practices makes it easy for adversaries to gain access to the device be it physical or through the man-in-the-middle attacks. More examples of it are risky profiles installed in the device or the user is connected to unsecured Wifi networks. To protect from such scenarios IT should enforce security policies into the devices before handling them to employees.

Worthy mention(s): Web content-based attacks

Another threat that isn’t at all device/OS-specific, but worth to mention in this article. It usually comes under social engineering. Social engineering involves phishing, spear-phishing in which a victim is forced into providing sensitive information on an attacker-controlled instance. A smart attacker can use phishing with existing iOS or installed application flaws to drive further attacks.

As enterprises choose iOS devices, it is also critical to ensure that these iOS security vulnerabilities are handled before they impact the enterprise data. Securing your enterprise iOS devices with a mobile device management solution can help mitigate the foreseen security threats and the IT can be assured that the security of Apple devices is not compromised.

Shubham Pathak works in Scalefusion product team. He has extensive experience in Golang, scripting and cryptography. He is passionate about information security and has been acknowledged by 50+ companies including tech-giants like Google, Microsoft and Sony in their Hall of Fame.

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