Security Researchers Use Wi-Fi and Safari Exploits to Breach iPhone 7 at Annual Mobile Pwn2Own Contest

Trend Micro's annual Mobile Pwn2Own contest took place in Tokyo, Japan today at the PacSec security conference, and security researchers spent the day attempting to hack into the iPhone 7, the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Google Pixel, and the Huawei Mate 9 Pro in an effort to win prizes totaling more than $500,000.


Apple's iPhone 7, running iOS 11.1, the latest version of the iOS 11 operating system, was successfully breached twice by Tencent Keen Security Lab. The first hack targeted a Wi-Fi bug and won the team $110,000 and 11 Master of Pwn points, while the second hack targeted the Safari Browser and earned Tencent Keen Security Lab $45,000 and 12 Master of Pwn points.
They used a total of four bugs to gain code execution and escalate privileges to allow their rogue application to persist through a reboot. They earned $60,000 for the WiFi exploit and added $50,000 for the persistence bonus - a total of $110,000 and 11 Master of Pwn points.

Tencent Keen Security Lab was on the clock once more as they targeted the Safari Browser on the Apple iPhone 7. It took them just a few seconds to successfully demonstrate their exploit, which needed only two bugs - one in the browser and one in a system service to allow their rogue app to persist through a reboot. As the second finisher in the Browser category, they earned half of the cash award at $45,000, but still earned the full 13 Master of Pwn points.
Security researcher Richard Zhu was also able to leverage two bugs to exploit the Safari browser and escape the sandbox to successfully run code on the iPhone 7, earning him $25,000 and 10 Master of Pwn points.

Along with the iPhone 7, researchers were able to find exploits for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Huawei Mate 9 Pro, earning a total of $350,000.

Trend Micro hosts Pwn2Own in an effort to promote its Zero Day Initiative, designed to reward security researchers for disclosing major vulnerabilities to tech companies like Apple and Google.

Pwn2Own continues on through tomorrow, so additional exploits may be uncovered. Apple representatives have been known to attend Pwn2Own competitions in past years, and all vulnerabilities discovered are disclosed to Apple. The company then has 90 days to produce patches for all iOS-related bugs before they're publicly disclosed.

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Mobile Pwn2Own Contest Offering Up to $100,000 Reward for iOS Vulnerabilities

Japanese cybersecurity company Trend Micro today announced its sixth annual Mobile Pwn2Own competition will be held at this year's PacSec security conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, November 1 and Thursday, November 2.


The competition is part of Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative, a program for rewarding security researchers for responsibly disclosing vulnerabilities to companies like Apple, Google, Samsung, and Huawei.

This year, targeted devices include the iPhone 7, Samsung's Galaxy S8, Google's Pixel, and Huawei's Mate 9 Pro, each of which will be running the latest version of iOS or Android respectively with up-to-date security fixes.

Trend Micro is making more than $500,000 available to be won, with the cash prizes available varying by type of exploit. Mobile Safari exploits, for example, are worth up to $40,000, while an SMS-based vulnerability could net $60,000.


In addition to the standard categories and prizes, there are add-on bonuses of between $20,000 and $50,000 for executing code with kernel privileges and having a smartphone operating system's payload persist after a reboot.

Apple representatives have attended Pwn2Own competitions in the past, with all vulnerabilities made aware to them. Apple will have 90 days to produce patches for any iOS-related bugs before they are disclosed.

Earlier this year, at the 10th anniversary Pwn2Own competition, security researchers uncovered macOS Sierra vulnerabilities, including a Safari exploit which allowed them to scroll a message on a MacBook Pro's Touch Bar.

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Researchers Uncover macOS and Safari Exploits at Pwn2Own 2017

The seventeenth annual CanSecWest security conference is underway in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, where researchers are competing in the 10th anniversary Pwn2Own computer hacking contest for over $1 million in prizes.

Day one results have already been published over at the Zero Day Initiative website, with a couple of successful Mac-related exploits already appearing in the list of achievements. Independent hackers Samuel Groß and Niklas Baumstark landed a partial success and earned $28,000 after targeting Safari with an escalation to root on macOS, which allowed them to scroll a message on a MacBook Pro Touch Bar.


In a partial win, Samuel Groß (@5aelo) and Niklas Baumstark (@_niklasb) earn some style points by leaving a special message on the touch bar of the Mac. They used a use-after-free (UAF) in Safari combined with three logic bugs and a null pointer dereference to exploit Safari and elevate to root in macOS. They still managed to earn $28,000 USD and 9 Master of Pwn points.
Later in the day, Chaitin Security Research Lab also targeted Safari with an escalation to root on macOS, finding success using a total of six bugs in their exploit chain, including "an info disclosure in Safari, four type confusion bugs in the browser, and a UAF in WindowServer". The combined efforts earned the team $35,000.

The participating teams earned a total of $233,000 in prizes on day one, including a leading $105,000 earned by Tencent Security, according to published details. Other software successfully targeted by contestants include Adobe Reader, Ubuntu Desktop, and Microsoft Edge on Windows.

Apple representatives have attended the Pwn2Own contest in the past, and affected parties are made aware of all security vulnerabilities discovered during the contest in order to patch them. Pwn2Own day two began today at 8:30 a.m. Pacific and will involve additional exploit attempts against macOS and Safari.


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