iPhone 11 held off FBI hacking efforts for two months

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The FBI finally hacked an iPhone 11
Even a federal law-enforcement agency took months to bypass iPhone security.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

It reportedly took the FBI two months to bypass the security built in an iPhone 11. This demonstrates how difficult iPhone hacking is for even one of the world’s premier law-enforcement agencies.

New York City built a $10 million iPhone-cracking lab

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GrayKey can bypass iPhone security
A passcode is the key to iPhone encryption. It keeps out criminals, and the police too.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

New York City works every day on hacking into thousands of iPhones, Androids, iPads, etc. The district attorney of Manhattan believes these contain evidence of crimes, and spent $10 million on a lab to find ways around or through iPhone encryption.

Researchers trick Face ID with modified glasses

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Facial Recognition
Face ID won‘t unlock your iPhone if you're unconscious. Glasses can trick the sensors, though.
Image: Apple

One of the advantages of Face ID over Touch ID is that the person unlocking their iPhone must be awake. However, researchers found a way to fool Apple’s facial recognition system into thinking someone is conscious when they weren’t — using modified glasses.

This method does not allow a hacker to trick an iPhone into misidentifying one person as another. But it still could prove problematic for Face ID.

Hacker hacks iPhone hacking company’s secret hacks

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iphone
They say turnabout is fair play, but iPhone users are caught in the middle when iOS hacking tools are stolen.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Israel’s NSO Group makes a business of hacking iPhones and Android devices.  In a reversal of roles, it was hacked by one of its own employees and valuable intellectual property was stolen.

While its tempting to lean back an enjoy this company’s discomfiture, the stolen property was NSO’s phone hacking tools, which were then offered on the dark web.

iPhone hacking van is a spy’s wet dream

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WiSpear iPhone hacking van
The WiSpear hacking van sounds like a prop from Mission Impossible, not a product on sale at a recent trade show.
Screencap: Thomas Fox-Brewster

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if something is real or was dreamed up by a Batman villain. That’s the case with the WiSpear iPhone hacking van.

This tool supposedly can be used to install malware on an iOS or Android device from a third of a mile away.

Hacker discovers bypassing iPhone passcode limit just requires a keyboard [UPDATED]

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iPhone passcode limit can be bypassed with a keyboard
A hacker claims the iPhone passcode limit can be bypassed with an external keyboard.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Companies like Grayshift help police bypass the passcodes on locked iPhones. One might think that this requires some byzantine hacking skills. Apparently not.

A hacker reports that iOS has a soft spot when it comes to external keyboards, allowing someone to send as many passcode attempts as desired. The passcodes have to be submitted correctly, though.

Turns out iOS 12 isn’t safe from ‘brute force’ iPhone unlockers

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iphone-unlock-640x426
Apple and a company that sells an iPhone unlocking tool are in a back-and-forth battle over your privacy.

Apple put a feature in the first iOS 12 beta designed specifically to thwart iPhone unlocking tools that use the Lightning port to get access to the device. But Grayshift, maker of a prominent unlocking tool, says it already has a workaround.

This is good news for the many law enforcement agencies around the U.S.  who’ve invested in Grayshift’s GrayKey unlocker. It’s not so good for anyone who wants to be sure their iPhone can’t be hacked.

Malicious Siri voice commands can hide in regular music

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Siri Alexa in voice report
Instead of helping you, Siri could be obeying voice commands concealed in the song you're playing.
Photo: Apple

Suppose you’re listening to some music, then glance over an realize your iPhone has loaded a porn site all on its own. That’s the nightmare scenario researchers say is possible after they proved voice commands can be concealed in songs.

It’s also possible to get Siri to recognize commands given at frequencies outside the range of human hearing.