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Hackers Demo Two iPhone Exploits via Safari at Mobile Pwn2Own

On Wednesday at the Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest taking place at the PacSec Applied Security Conference in Tokyo, security researchers demonstrated two iPhone exploits that leverage Apple’s Safari mobile web browser.

Taking home $27,500 in rewards for successful exploits in Safari mobile was “Keen Team”, a team of eight from China who were able to capture Facebook credentials on iOS 7.0.3 and steal a photo on iOS version 6.1.4, both running on an iPhone 5 that was not jail-broken.

Keen Team

The researchers (right) didn’t successfully compromise the sandbox, HP said.

“In a world where social media is thoughtlessly ubiquitous, the Keen Team, with remarkable ease, demonstrated two exploits that were a wake-up call to those who share their personal information on mobile devices,” HP’s Heather Goudey wrote in a post announcing the news from Tokyo.

In less then five minutes, the researchers were able to capture Facebook credentials using an application exploit via Safari and steal a Facebook cookie that was then exfiltrated and used to compromise the targeted Facebook account from another machine.

The exploit does require some user interaction, in this case just a simple click by a mobile user from something as easy an email, SMS, website or tweet.

“The second was another Safari exploit and it took a little longer due to technical difficulties (we forgot to plug their laptop in),” Goudey wrote. “In this case the vulnerability in Safari was exploitable due to issues with the permissions model. Keen Team was able to access photos stored on the device. Again, in order to be successful the affected user would need to click on a link.”

According to HP, the vulnerabilities exploited by Keen Team do not affect Blink, the rendering engine used in Chromium.

The vulnerabilities have been disclosed to Apple and Google, HP said.

Also this week at Mobile Pwn2Own, a team of security researchers from Japan demonstrated exploits against several applications installed by default on Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones that enabled them to silently install a malicious application and steal sensitive data.

Team MBSD, of Japanese firm Mitsui Bussan Secure Directions, Inc., earned $40,000 for their exploit efforts which enabled them to successfully compromise the Samsung device running Google’s Android. 

Keen Team Discusses the Safari exploits at Mobile Pwn2Own in the video below.

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.