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Submission Researcher Finds Hidden Data-Dumping Services in iOS

Trailrunner7 writes: There are a number of undocumented and hidden features and services in Apple iOS that can be used to bypass the backup encryption on iOS devices and remove large amounts of users’ personal data. Several of these features began as benign services but have evolved in recent years to become powerful tools for acquiring user data.

Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist and researcher who has worked extensively with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, has spent quite a bit of time looking at the capabilities and services available in iOS for data acquisition and found that some of the services have no real reason to be on these devices and that several have the ability to bypass the iOS backup encryption. One of the services in iOS, called mobile file_relay, can be accessed remotely or through a USB connection can be used to bypass the backup encryption. If the device has not been rebooted since the last time the user entered the PIN, all of the data encrypted via data protection can be accessed, whether by an attacker or law enforcement, Zdziarski said.

Zdziarski discussed his findings in a talk at the HOPE X conference recently and published the slides and paper, as well. The file_relay service has been in iOS for some time and originally was benign, but Zdziarski said that in recent versions it has turned into a tool that can dump loads of user data on command. The file_relay tool can dump a list of the email and social media accounts, the address book, the user cache folder, which contains screenshots, offline content, copy/paste data, keyboard typing cache and other personal data. The tool can also provide a log of periodic location snapshots from the device.
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Researcher Finds Hidden Data-Dumping Services in iOS

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