iOS 14: Manipulated WiFi names enable code execution


A weak point in the processing of SSIDs in iOS 14 seems to be considerably larger than originally assumed: WLAN names with certain character strings can not only temporarily paralyze the wireless interface of iPhones, but also allow any program code to be smuggled in and executed, as security researchers warn.

Originally, the vulnerability even made it possible to execute code on iPhones in the immediate vicinity without the victim having to perform an action (zero click) – it was therefore not necessary to establish a connection to the WLAN with a manipulated SSID, it says in an analysis by the security company ZecOps. However, Apple quietly resolved this massive problem in iOS 14.4 at the beginning of the year without giving any further information.

Up to iOS 14.6, however, code execution via manipulated SSIDs is still possible, according to the security researchers. But now the iPhone must first establish a connection with a correspondingly manipulated WLAN before an attack can take place. iOS 14.7 is supposed to eliminate the “WiFiDemon” baptized security hole.

The CERT-Bund of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) also recommends a “prompt installation” of the new operating system version. ZecOps also recommends deactivating the automatic connection to hotspots in the WLAN settings.

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It is unusual that there is no update for iPads yet; version 14.7 of iPadOS is still pending for Apple tablets. Older iPhones with iOS 12.x are not susceptible, notes ZecOps. Apple itself has still not published any details about the security holes that have been fixed with iOS 14.7. For example, it is also unclear whether the latest update will take further precautions against the Pegasus espionage software.


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