The simple, elegant JailbreakMe tool exploits a zero-day security hole in Mobile Safari to gain root access to the iOS kernel. The vulnerability, which involves a filter used with embedded files in PDF documents, could still be used by malicious hackers to attack any
iOS device, not just jailbroken ones
. However, until Apple fixes the hole, the only way to protect yourself is to jailbreak
and install @cdevwill's PDF Loading Warner
tweak. Tell your friends.
Ching-Lan Huang has a nice technical explanation
of how the FlateDecode exploit works. Basically, the PDF file used for JailbreakMe contains a payload that is disguised as a Compact Font Format (CFF) file. FlateDecode - which is a lossless general purpose filter for any data compressed with the zlib implementation of classic RFC1951
deflate - uncompresses and loads the CFF file from the stream, which causes the font stack to overflow. As Huang describes it: "Kaboom." The payload then executes, jailbreaks your device, and loads Cydia.
Charlie Miller, who found a similar vulnerability
in Mac OS X Safari, calls this exploit "very beautiful work,"
adding that it's "scary how it totally defeats Apple’s security architecture." What can't be emphasized enough is that this is a door Apple left jammed open
, not one that comex broke open. The hole was there from the beginning (which is why we call it a "zero-day" vulnerability), and it's still there now, on every iOS device, jailbroken or not. What the Dev-Team's Will (@cdevwill) Strafach put together is a simple tweak, PDF Loading Warner
, that will detect when a PDF file is attempting to load arbitrary code. If you're on a trusted site, you can choose "Load," or otherwise tap "Cancel" and you're all good.
Good news/bad news: as @chpwn tweeted
yesterday, "there are /lots/ of public exploits out there, and @comex's JailbreakMe just uses one of them." So it's "no big deal" if Apple fixes this one, because there are, apparently, enough holes in the system to allow future jailbreaks. Yikes. And Apple complains about jailbreaks causing "compromised security