Value Added: New Jailbreak May Make Your iDevice MORE Secure


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Last month, we reported on how Apple's handheld devices were susceptible to malware attacks via sneaky web links ("Unauthorized Launch: How Malicious URL's Can Trick iPhone Apps").

In face, as we've pointed out repeatedly, iOS has so many security holes you could strain noodles with it (see "5 of the Most Notable iOS Security Holes We've Seen").  To make matters worse, big chunks of whatever iOS security does exist are routinely KO'd by many jailbreaking exploits.

Until now.

Security consultant and app developer Stefan Esser, who works for Germany-based SektionEins, will be appearing at the Power of Community security conference on December 14 in Seoul, South Korea, to unveil a new iDevice jailbreak that actually strengthens — not weakens — iOS security.

Esser's technique utilizes "address space layout randomization" (ASLR for short), which randomizes the memory locations where injected code is executed.  Most malware looks to perform its dirty work in hardcoded memory locations; with ASLR, the malware app will fail because the target code isn't where it should be.

ASLR is already part of Windows 7 mobile (and desktop OS's since Vista); Apple's OS X, on the other hand, only has limited ASLR — and iOS, none.  Esser's jailbreak/security upgrade is said to reorder the contents of the library storehouse file dyld_shared_cache — basically, creating a completely unique version of the file on each iOS user's device — as well the base address of the dynamic linker and the main thread's stack.  All these techniques, by the way, provide stronger protection than what is currently offered in OS X.

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