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Apple Pitches Security of iMessage in Response to SMS Spoofing Issue

Late last week, jalibreak hacker pod2g disclosed an issue with the way Apple's iOS handles optional headers in SMS messages, a vulnerability that could allow users to be targeted by SMS spoofing that makes messages appear to originate from people other than the actual senders. While SMS spoofing is certainly not new and can be performed through various services, this specific issue in the handling of reply-to addresses could be addressed fairly easily by Apple.

Engadget reported over the weekend that it had obtained a statement from Apple on the issue, with Apple simply touting its iMessage service as a more secure alternative to SMS.
Apple takes security very seriously. When using iMessage instead of SMS, addresses are verified which protects against these kinds of spoofing attacks. One of the limitations of SMS is that it allows messages to be sent with spoofed addresses to any phone, so we urge customers to be extremely careful if they're directed to an unknown website or address over SMS.

iMessage is of course an Apple-specific messaging service, and is thus only compatible with iOS devices running iOS 5 or later and Macs running OS X Mountain Lion. Consequently, it is generally not possible for users to entirely replace their SMS usage with iMessage. Apple has also not committed to making any changes in how it handles reply-to addresses for SMS, so it is unknown whether they will be directly addressing the issue.

Top Rated Comments

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29 months ago
Translation:

Don't use SMS! Use iMessage and you can be sure it's secure! If you're friends don't have iPhones, tell them to get one!
Rating: 31 Votes
29 months ago
So they want to pitch there own service rather than fix the problem? ugh.
Rating: 23 Votes
29 months ago
What a BS response.
Rating: 19 Votes
29 months ago
Most of my friends use Android phones (and we do playfully bicker about what's better sometimes, it's what friends do) so I can't iMessage with them.

Spouting a proprietary service as a solution instead of fixing the problem is just plain stupid and embarrassing, Apple. Fix your ****.
Rating: 15 Votes
29 months ago
Love my iMessage and Facetime, but wish it was open source so I could use it with family and friends on Android.
Rating: 11 Votes
29 months ago
Of course iMessage is secure. Now let's just get it show up on all my devices at the same time.
Rating: 10 Votes
29 months ago

So Apple should fix the SMS flaw for the carriers?


It's not a flaw in SMS. Apple needs to enhance their app.

The problem is not that there is an optional SMS header that gives a different reply-to number, it's that Apple reportedly displays only that number and doesn't display the originator number as well.

In other words, an evil site could send you an SMS with a reply-to number that matches someone or place known to you. Since the iPhone only displays that instead of the evil originator, you might be inclined to trust any link or other info... because you (falsely) believe the origin was friendly.
Rating: 10 Votes
29 months ago

Translation:

Don't use SMS! Use iMessage and you can be sure it's secure! If you're friends don't have iPhones, tell them to get one!


No. Translation: This is a flaw in SMS, don't go to sites linked from SMS or stick with iMessage.

This is the same limitation as current email setups. You can spoof the sender of an email to make it look like it's coming from anyone.
Rating: 9 Votes
29 months ago
There is no fix. The issue has been known since at least 2008 and is baked into the sms infrastructure.

This is exactly like spoofing smtp mail. This is not Apple's problem, and there isn't anything they can or should do.
Rating: 8 Votes
29 months ago

Most of my friends use Android phones (and we do playfully bicker about what's better sometimes, it's what friends do) so I can't iMessage with them.

Spouting a proprietary service as a solution instead of fixing the problem is just plain stupid and embarrassing, Apple. Fix your ****.


So Apple should fix the SMS flaw for the carriers?
Rating: 6 Votes

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