The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 10, features a “major security flaw” that makes it easier for hackers to crack passwords through local iTunes backups, according to the Moscow-based digital forensics and password recovery firm ElcomSoft.
In a blog post Friday, ElcomSoft’s Oleg Afonin called the potential impact of the security weakness “severe.” Apple released iOS 10 on September 13, three days before it launched the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, both of which run the new operating system.
The flaw stems from an alternative password verification mechanism that Apple added to iOS 10 backups, according to Afonin. The new method, which sits alongside a previous backup method used in iOS 9 and earlier versions, allows hackers to guess at a device’s password anywhere from 40 to 2,500 times faster than before, he said.
80%-90% Chance of Password Recovery
“When working on an iOS 10 update for Elcomsoft Phone Breaker [ElcomSoft’s forensics tool for iOS and BlackBerry devices], we discovered an alternative password verification mechanism added to iOS 10 backups,” Afonin said in his blog post. “We looked into it, and found out that the new mechanism skips certain security checks, allowing us to try passwords approximately 2500 times faster compared to the old mechanism used in iOS 9 and older.”
Using Phone Breaker with a variety of password dictionary resources, a hacker running those tools over a two-day period has an 80 percent to 90 percent chance of recovering a password on an iOS 10 device, Afonin added.
Apple did not respond to our request for comment on the ElcomSoft report. However, Forbes reported Friday that the company provided the following statement: “We’re aware of an issue that affects the encryption strength for backups of devices on iOS 10 when backing up to iTunes on the Mac…