Researchers Hacked iPhones That Are Turned Off Using Bluetooth Vulnerability | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Researchers have come up with a malware for iPhones that continues to run even when the phone is switched off. Every time you turn off your phone and think that you’re in the clear from all potential hackers, think again.

When your iPhone powers down, chips inside the phone continue to run in a low-power mode to ensure that the “Find My iPhone” feature continues to work. Researchers just demonstrated how this always-on mechanism may be abused to get access to the phone.


Running malware on a shut down iPhone

Researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Darmstadt found that iPhone’s Bluetooth chip lacks any mechanism for digital signatures or to encrypt the firmware it runs. By exploiting this, the researchers were able to run a malicious firmware that allows any hacker to track an iPhone’s location or to run new features even when the device is turned off.

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For clarity, researchers weren’t referring to iPhone’s low-power mode for conserving battery life. But instead used the phone’s inbuilt low-power mode (LPM) that is used for near-field communication, ultra wideband, and Bluetooth to run in a special mode. Features in this mode continue to run even 24 hours after a device is turned off.

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“The current LPM implementation on Apple iPhones is opaque and adds new threats,” the researchers wrote in a paper published last week. “Since LPM support is based on the iPhone’s hardware, it cannot be removed with system updates. Thus, it has a long-lasting effect on the overall iOS security model. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first who looked into undocumented LPM features introduced in iOS 15 and uncover various issues,” they added.

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It’s imperative to note that such hacks would only work on jailbroken iPhones that are now more uncommon. But if the device is already infected by malware like Pegasus (that helps hackers snoop), hackers may use this exploit to gain more access. Firmware hacking may be more difficult to achieve, but it is also extremely difficult to identify after it is in motion. Expensive equipment and expertise is required to spot such infections that run when the phone is switched off.

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Usually, LPM features like “Find My iPhone” are extremely handy in finding your device if it’s out of battery or to even unlock car doors. But this new study sheds light on how it may be exploited by hackers.

What do you think about this study? Let us know in the comments below. For more in the world of technology and science, keep reading


Goodin, D. (2022, May 16). Researchers devise iPhone malware that runs even when device is turned off. Ars Technica. 

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