Security Researchers Use Wi-Fi and Safari Exploits to Breach iPhone 7 at Annual Mobile Pwn2Own Contest
Trend Micro's annual Mobile Pwn2Own contest took place in Tokyo, Japan today at the PacSec security conference, and security researchers spent the day attempting to hack into the iPhone 7, the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel, and the Huawei Mate 9 Pro in an effort to win prizes totaling more than $500,000.
Apple's iPhone 7, running iOS 11.1, the latest version of the iOS 11 operating system, was successfully breached twice by Tencent Keen Security Lab. The first hack targeted a Wi-Fi bug and won the team $110,000 and 11 Master of Pwn points, while the second hack targeted the Safari Browser and earned Tencent Keen Security Lab $45,000 and 12 Master of Pwn points.
They used a total of four bugs to gain code execution and escalate privileges to allow their rogue application to persist through a reboot. They earned $60,000 for the WiFi exploit and added $50,000 for the persistence bonus - a total of $110,000 and 11 Master of Pwn points.
Tencent Keen Security Lab was on the clock once more as they targeted the Safari Browser on the Apple iPhone 7. It took them just a few seconds to successfully demonstrate their exploit, which needed only two bugs - one in the browser and one in a system service to allow their rogue app to persist through a reboot. As the second finisher in the Browser category, they earned half of the cash award at $45,000, but still earned the full 13 Master of Pwn points.
Security researcher Richard Zhu was also able to leverage two bugs to exploit the Safari browser and escape the sandbox to successfully run code on the iPhone 7, earning him $25,000 and 10 Master of Pwn points.
Along with the iPhone 7, researchers were able to find exploits for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Huawei Mate 9 Pro, earning a total of $350,000.
Trend Micro hosts Pwn2Own in an effort to promote its Zero Day Initiative, designed to reward security researchers for disclosing major vulnerabilities to tech companies like Apple and Google.
Pwn2Own continues on through tomorrow, so additional exploits may be uncovered. Apple representatives have been known to attend Pwn2Own competitions in past years, and all vulnerabilities discovered are disclosed to Apple. The company then has 90 days to produce patches for all iOS-related bugs before they're publicly disclosed.