Security News > 2023 > August > New Apple iOS 16 Exploit Enables Stealthy Cellular Access Under Fake Airplane Mode

New Apple iOS 16 Exploit Enables Stealthy Cellular Access Under Fake Airplane Mode
2023-08-17 14:26

Cybersecurity researchers have documented a novel post-exploit persistence technique on iOS 16 that could be abused to fly under the radar and main access to an Apple device even when the victim believes it is offline.

The method "Tricks the victim into thinking their device's Airplane Mode works when in reality the attacker has planted an artificial Airplane Mode which edits the UI to display Airplane Mode icon and cuts internet connection to all apps except the attacker application," Jamf Threat Labs researchers Hu Ke and Nir Avraham said in a report shared with The Hacker News.

The approach devised by Jamf, in a nutshell, provides an illusion to the user that the Airplane Mode is on while allowing a malicious actor to stealthily maintain a cellular network connection for a rogue application.

The goal of the attack is to devise an artificial Airplane Mode that keeps the UI changes intact but retains cellular connectivity for a malicious payload installed on the device by other means.

To pull off the ruse, the CommCenter daemon is utilized to block cellular data access for specific apps and disguise it as Airplane Mode by means of a hooked function that alters the alert window to look like the setting has been turned on.

"When combined with the other techniques outlined above, the fake Airplane Mode now appears to act just as the real one, except that the internet ban does not apply to non-application processes such as a backdoor trojan."

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