With new research conducted in security vulnerabilities with iOS – the operating system behind the iPhone, iPod and iPad, your mobile device could be stuck in a broken state simply for walking into a Wi-Fi service area.
As detailed by mobile and technology security firm Skycure, iOS devices currently hold a strange and potentially disabling security issue which would leave your device unable to be used when walking into a Wi-Fi hotspot. With this vulnerability specifically only working on iOS devices, not Android, this creates a “No iOS Zone” for any hackers who don’t like what Apple has to offer, and could be a big problem if Apple doesn’t get on top of the issue soon.
Originally discovered by fiddling with the router configurations in their company for a network security demonstration, Skycure learned that certain iOS devices rely heavily on something known as SSL. Secure Socket Layer [SSL] manages over most of the proper security functions in our applications, but on iOS can currently lead to these applications crashing due to a parsing error. Here’s a quick 6 second video showcasing the issue on a small scale:
When connecting to the Wi-Fi network, all applications that automatically seek to update via the internet would have the potential to crash, assuming that this parsing error was possible in that application, but the error isn’t just limited to an app. According to further research, the issue is embedded in iOS itself, as showcased here:
An even more interesting impact of the SSL certificate parsing vulnerability is that it actually affects the underlying iOS operating system. With heavy use of devices exposed to the vulnerability, the operating system crashes as well. Even worse, under certain conditions, we managed to get devices into a repeatable reboot cycle, rendering them useless.
As seen here, while the device is in range of that Wi-Fi hotspot, if you’ve connected to it you’ll be out of commission until you connect to another network, but if you’re in a constant reboot cycle, it’s not possible to get your Wi-Fi turned off or changed until you leave the Wi-Fi range.
So what do you do if you iOS device is constantly rebooting? If this is in fact your issue the best option might be to leave the Wi-Fi area. As always the best course of preventative action is to not connect to any networks of Wi-Fi you don’t know until Apple can secure a fix to the iOS. Make sure to keep your devices up to date for the best possible protection.