An attacker can steal your contacts, snoop on your email and erase all data from your iPhone or Android using Microsoft Exchange, a Perth university lecturer has revealed.
Peter Hannay discovered that by pushing policy to phones he could wipe the devices clean and likely steal data and sniff outgoing emails.
“There is nothing technically difficult to this – it's really easy and really lame, and that's a problem,” the Edith Cowan researcher told delegates at the Kiwicon security conference.
“We can set a minimum length for device passwords, demand as the server that a 65,500-long character password be set … and set the screen lock to a one second timeout and give one password attempt.”
“And we pushed a WiFi [ban] out to a WiFi-only iPad.”
In a proof-of-concept demonstration also shown at Defcon, Hannay used a WiFi Pineapple with DNS spoofing plus a fake certificate to which victim phones would connect.
Victim iPhones would flag a connection warning of which “nine out of 10 CEOs will click through” before the devices would be wiped.
“The problem is that we are giving users ... the ability to turn off security measures and they have been trained for years to bypass these sorts of errors,” Hannay said.
Microsoft's Windows Phone was not vulnerable to the attack.
Hannay along with a crew of Edith Cowan university students were further developing the research to include a protocol library to emulate the ActiveSync Protocol.
“We may be able to get the phones to sync address books, contacts and so on. We could … push a new outgoing mail server to devices so that from now on whenever you send an email, it comes through us.”
He said the attack would gather a lot of victims in public areas such as airports.
Hannay also said when analysing a recent iteration of Android, he discovered Google Apps for business could also push policies following fallible reverse DNS checks.