Hackers use iPhone prototypes for developers (stolen from Foxconn factories) to break into consumer iPhones. They buy them on the black market for several thousand dollars
11.07.2019 Francis Patterson 0 Comments
From time to time, there are online publications about companies that allegedly have the appropriate tools to bypass the protection and hacking of modern smartphones, be it Apple iPhone or Android models from different manufacturers. From the latest examples that come to mind – Cellebrite and DriveSavers. And yesterday, on the Motherboard website they published a very voluminous material, which tells about the current method of hacking Apple iPhone smartphones. Moreover, the journalists, citing the results of the investigation, write that some companies, including Cellebrite and GrayKey, providing iOS hacking and iPhone unlocking services (mainly for special services) have already adopted this method.
To successfully bypass Apple’s defense mechanisms on consumer iPhones, hackers use … other iPhones designed exclusively for developers. More specifically, we are talking about prototypes on which many security features are disabled. These same prototypes of financially interested people steal from Foxconn factories in China, where the iPhone and other Apple products are being assembled.
Actually, such thefts happen quite often. For example, about half a year ago, one such case was reported, then employees of the Foxconn plant stole components for $ 1.3 million.
Stolen prototypes sell on the black market, and for very big money. The price starts from a few thousand dollars and reaches several tens of thousands of dollars depending on a set of possibilities. Motherboard journalists found an ad to sell the iPhone X for $ 1,800, the iPhone 8 Plus for $ 5,000 and the iPhone XR for $ 20,000.
To connect the prototypes to the computer requires a special cable (image above), which is used by Apple engineers. It can also be bought on the black market for about $ 2000. Having a prototype and a cable in your hands, you can get root-rights (full access to the smartphone’s operating system) without any difficulties using several commands. It is with these prototypes that hackers gain access to the most critical parts of the source code and use this data to develop effective hacking methods.
In 2016, at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, these same iPhone prototypes were mentioned in a report by an Apple representative. As the Motherboard notes, this was the only time the company officially recognized the existence of prototypes. At the same time, the source notes that Apple security officers and its manufacturing partner Foxconn are constantly introducing new security measures to prevent theft and prototyping on the black market, but enterprising workers are finding new ways and loopholes for the removal of components and devices.