javascript contador Skip to content

Turning an iPhone into brick over Wi-Fi is stupidly easy

Apple, or the art of not moving and looking like you're running

Turning an iPhone into brick over Wi-Fi is stupidly easy

A new method for brickeying the iPhone takes advantage of the strange iOS date bug.

If you read Omicrono often you surely know what bug I’m talking about. It was discovered last February, and it is that if we changed the date to January 1, 1970, the iPhone was blocked.

Ok, in perspective the truth is that it does not seem a serious bug. Just stick with the current time, and you won’t have a problem, true? Well, no. Because from the very moment that there is a simple method to turn the iPhone into a brick (or bricke it), there will be people trying to take advantage of it.

The date bug, more serious than it seemed

For starters, there were a lot of people who made a joke of picking up a friend’s iPhone and changing it to a fateful date. How funny, right? No, it isn’t, don’t do it.

Now it has been discovered that actually you don’t even have to have physical access to take advantage of the bug, and that it is possible to remote-control the iPhone, simply by taking advantage of another iOS feature related to Wi-Fi networks. The bug has been revealed by Krebs on Security, and may already be in use.

Let’s start at the beginning: iOS, and most operating systems, have functionality that allows them to check that the time is correct via the Internet, and change it if necessary.

This is called the Network Time Protocol, and it is very useful, for example, for change the time automatically when winter time arrives or summer, or if we are traveling and we want the mobile to always show the local time. So iPhone checks the time online whenever it can, although obviously you can only do it if you have a Wi-Fi or mobile Internet connection.

On the other hand, iOS also has a functionality that allows you automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks that we have already used.

The problem is that the only requirement for an iPhone to connect to a Wi-Fi network is that the name is the same; so in theory we can connect to different Wi-Fi networks that we trust without realizing it. Normally this is not a catastrophe, but now put this problem together with the bug

This is how the iPhone brickeying method works

And you have an authentic Molotov cocktail, ready to burn at any time. Surely you have already done the sum mentally, but we will review it. First, our iPhone connects to an imposting Wi-Fi network, placed there by an attacker with the same name as a known networkFor example, that of a coffee shop or restaurant that we visit every day.

As soon as it connects, the iPhone tries to find out what time it is. If the attacker then redirects the request to his own Network Time Protocol server, You can change the time of our device; something innocuous normally, but that can completely block our iPhone if the date is January 1, 1970.

Fortunately, all of this has a solution: install the update to iOS 9.3.1 if we haven’t already, since that’s where the patch for the date bug is. Although it sounds obvious, there may be many people who have not updated because it is a minor version, with no striking news apart from the patch.

In addition, there is the problem of connecting to imposter Wi-Fi networks, but for that there is no solution but to be careful if we are going to use the functionality.