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Fake ‘checkra1n’ iOS Jailbreak Offered in Click Fraud Scheme

iPhone owners looking to jailbreak their devices have been warned that a fake checkra1n jailbreak is being offered as part of a sophisticated click fraud scheme featuring techniques that could be used for far more malicious actions.

iPhone owners looking to jailbreak their devices have been warned that a fake checkra1n jailbreak is being offered as part of a sophisticated click fraud scheme featuring techniques that could be used for far more malicious actions.

A researcher specializing in iOS security, known online as axi0mX, last month released the source code of an iOS exploit that can be used to jailbreak iPhones. The exploit, dubbed Checkm8, impacts the bootrom (SecureROM) component, making it impossible to patch with a software or firmware update.

Checkm8 can be used to jailbreak devices with Apple processors ranging from A5 to A11 — this includes all devices between iPhone 4S and iPhone X. Executing the exploit requires physical access to the targeted device.

axi0mX and others have already started working on an iOS jailbreak leveraging Checkm8, which they have dubbed checkra1n. Many iPhone enthusiasts can’t wait to get the new jailbreak and some hackers are trying to take advantage.

A website hosted at checkrain[.]com claims to offer the checkra1n jailbreak when visited from an iOS device. According to Cisco Talos, whose researchers have analyzed the site, the people behind this scheme claim the checkra1n jailbreak works on devices with A5 through A13 processors and executing it does not require a PC. It’s worth noting that the Checkm8 exploit does not work on A13 devices and it does require the phone to be connected to a computer via USB.

Users who attempt to install the fake jailbreak are actually served an iOS profile. These profiles can contain various device settings (Wi-Fi, email, VPN, password restrictions), but malicious profiles can also be used to take control of devices if they are leveraged to enroll the phone into a mobile device management (MDM) platform.

In this particular attack, once the profile is installed, a checkra1n icon appears on the screen. When run, it initiates what appears to be the jailbreak process. In reality, it opens a website in full screen mode using the Apple Web Clip developer function, and it shows a fake jailbreak progress bar.

However, when the process is completed, the victim is instructed to download and use some iOS apps and games in order to unlock their device.

“This is obviously nonsense — the user will merely provide more interactive sessions through the gameplay, which may result in additional revenue for this attacker,” Cisco Talos researchers said in a blog post.

According to Talos, the fake checkra1n website was mostly accessed from the United States, but also from the UK, France, Nigeria, Iraq, Vietnam, Venezuela, Egypt, Georgia, Australia, Canada, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Italy.

The fake Checkra1n website is currently marked as malicious by Google Safe Browsing.

Talos has warned that while in this case the scheme is only used for click fraud, the same technique can be used to enroll devices in an MDM platform, which could have far more serious consequences.

Related: Many Security Apps on Google Play Inefficient, Fake: Study

Related: Mobile Malware and Mobile Attackers are Getting More Sophisticated

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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