Security Bytes

Jul 2 2007   10:12AM GMT

The iPhone is more secure than other smartphones

David Schneier David Schneier Profile: David Schneier

The iPhone has been out for less than 72 hours and I’m already breaking my vow never to write about it. But it’s with good reason. The guys at Errata Security have posted a short initial analysis of the iPhone and have come to the conclusion that the iPhone is inherently more secure than other smartphones. They say this because the iPhone is controlled by iTunes/Safari rather than Windows Mobile or Symbian, the two dominant mobile operating systems, which have both had their share of security issues.

While Apple is slightly behind Windows on the desktop/server (that Samba bug still appears to be unfixed), it’s still light years ahead of the mobile vendors. The mobile market is completely screwed up right now: while carriers know about the widespread vulnerabilities in their phones, the carriers are unwilling to patch them.

This is an interesting theory, and it may well prove to be true. But in the post, Errata’s Robert Graham also argues that the iPhone will have a big bull’s eye on it for some time and that hackers, who know more about cracking OS X than they do Windows Mobile or Symbian, will be taking their best shots at the iPhone. But then again, that’s the case with any hot new device these days. Also, the iPhone will automatically connect to available WiFi hotspots, which can be a security problem. Oh, and Graham says that the same Safari bug Errata found recently also is present in the iPhone. And so it begins.

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  • Hamilton Lovecraft
    "Also, the iPhone will automatically connect to available WiFi hotspots, which can be a security problem." That turns out not to be the case. WiFi on the iPhone can be turned on and off; when on, it operates in one of two modes: With "Ask To Join Networks" set "on", the Wi-Fi settings page claims, "Known networks will be joined automatically. If no known networks are available, you will be asked before joining a new network." Set to "off", the second sentence changes to "If no known networks are available, you will have to manually select a network." Thus, in its most promiscuous mode, the user has to explicitly say "yes" to joining an unfamiliar network.
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