Hi. I’m Prateek Gianchandani.

Security Researcher. Mountaineer. Diver.

iOS Application Security Part 38 - Attacking apps using Parse (Guest Lecture by Egor Tolstoy)

This is a guest lecture by Egor Tolstoy. Egor is a full-time iOS developer working at Rambler&Co and leaving with his lovely wife in Moscow, Russia. In his spare time he investigate iOS applications for different vulnerabilities and blogs about my research.

Parse is a wonderful BaaS which helps with setting up backend infrastructure for your mobile application as fast as possible. Maybe just because of this simplicity many developers forget about a number of new security issues and vulnerabilities.

For those who don’t know what this service is, let’s make a brief introduction. Parse provides a lot of useful capabilities to mobile developer: cloud data storage, push notifications, usage statistics and crash logs gathering, code hosting, background jobs and a many other things. Within the boundaries of thes research we are interested in the cloud data storage, named Cloud Core.
All the data in Cloud Core is stored in so called custom classes (ordinary database tables).

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iOS Application Security Part 37 - Adapting to iOS 8

In this article we will look at all the things you need to do to set up a pentesting platform on iOS 8 and be comfortable with using all the tools.

Jailbreaking your device

If your device is running iOS 8.1 or earlier, you can use pangu to jailbreak your device. The process is prerry straightforward. We will not be covering jailbreaking your device in this article but if you want to know how it is done, you can read this article.

Note: I was getting an error with Pangu saying that there was not enough space on my device even though there was enough space. I tried by putting my device into Airplane mode and by turning off Wifi on my laptop and it worked for me.

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Damn Vulnerable iOS App v1.4 launched

I am so excited to release the latest version of Damn Vulnerable iOS app for iOS 8. Up till now, DVIA has been downloaded more than 75000 times and i can’t wait for the count to reach 6 digits :–)

Following vulnerabilities and challenges have been added in the latest version.

  1. Sensitive information in memory
  2. Webkit Caching (Insecure data storage)
  3. Certificate pinning bypass

You can download the latest version from here. The source code is available on the project’s github page here.

Manual Installation

The easiest way is to install the application from Cydia. Add the source repo.kylelevin.com and search for DamnVulnerableiOSApp.


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Android Application hacking with Insecure Bank Part 1

In this article series, we will learn at various concepts of Android application security while exploiting a vulnerable app InsecureBankv2. We will be looking at all the concepts from a noob’s perspective and hence i would recommend this blog series to beginners as well.

However, the first thing to do is set up a proper mobile pentesting platform for android application testing.

The first thing to do is download the Eclipse ADT bundle. You can then follow the instructions here to install the ADT bundle. Once this is done, make sure you install the necessary sdk packages and libraries by following the instructions here.

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iOS Application Security Part 36 – Bypassing certificate pinning using SSL Kill switch

In this article, we will look at how we can analyze network traffic for applications that use certificate pinning. One of the best definitions i found of certificate pinning is mentioned below. It is taken directly from this url.

By default, when making an SSL connection, the client checks that the server’s certificate:

  • has a verifiable chain of trust back to a trusted (root) certificate
  • matches the requested hostname
  • What it doesn’t do is check if the certificate in question is a specific certificate, namely the one you know your server is using.
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Wifite Walkthrough part 2: Cracking WPA access points

In this article, we will look at cracking access points using WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK using Wifite.

If you have used tools like airodump-ng, aircrack-ng etc to crack WPA access points before, you would know that the required thing to successfully crack a WPA-PSK network is a captured WPA four-way handshake. More details about the WPA four-way handshake can be found on this wikipedia page.

As mentioned in the previous article, there is a bug in Wifite that may or may not be there in your particular version of Wifite. The bug basically doesn’t aireplay-ng to function properly and displays an error like aireplay-ng exited unexpectedly . In order to fix this, you will have to make slight modifications in the code of wifite. You can install gedit (apt-get install gedit) which is a text editor and then edit the wifite python script (found in /usr/bin/wifite) using the steps mentioned here. To open wifite, use the command gedit /usr/bin/wifite. This will open up the source code of wifite. Then replace every occurence of cmd = [‘aireplay-ng’, with cmd = [‘aireplay-ng’,’–ignore-negative-one’,

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Wifite Walkthrough part 1: Cracking WEP access points

In this article series, we will look at a tool named Wifite suitable for automated auditing of wireless networks. Most of you who have experience in wireless pentesting would use tools like airmon-ng, aireplay-ng, airodump-ng, aircrack-ng to crack wireless networks. This would involve a sequence of steps, like capturing a specific numbers of IV’s in case of WEP, capturing the WPA handshake in case of WPA etc, and then subsequently using aircrack-ng to crack the password required for authentication to the network. Wifite aims to ease this process by using a wrapper over all these tools and thus making it super easy to crack Wifi networks.

Here is a list of features of Wifite as per its official homepage.

  • sorts targets by signal strength (in dB); cracks closest access points first
  • automatically de-authenticates clients of hidden networks to reveal SSIDs
  • numerous filters to specify exactly what to attack (wep/wpa/both, above certain signal strengths, channels, etc)
  • customizable settings (timeouts, packets/sec, etc)
  • “anonymous” feature; changes MAC to a random address before attacking, then changes back when attacks are complete
  • all captured WPA handshakes are backed up to wifite.py’s current directory
  • smart WPA de-authentication; cycles between all clients and broadcast deauths
  • stop any attack with Ctrl+C, with options to continue, move onto next target, skip to cracking, or exit
  • displays session summary at exit; shows any cracked keys
  • all passwords saved to cracked.txt
  • built-in updater: ./wifite.py -upgrade
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iOS Application Security Part 35 – Auditing iOS Applications With iDB

In this article, we will look at another cool utility named iDB for pentesting iOS applications.

Before that, i would like to apologize for coming up late with this article. A lot of you have been requesting articles on different topics and i promise that i will write on them soon :). So since we are best friends again, let’s dive into this tool.

iDB is open source and you can download it from its Github page. You can then follow the tutorial here to know how to install it. Installation might take some time as there might be some dependencies you will have to install, so have some patience. Also, please note that it works with ruby versions 1.9 and 2.1 so make sure you set that version of ruby. You can use rvm list to list the versions of ruby installed on your system and then use rvm use followed by the version of ruby that you want to use.

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iOS Application Security Part 34 - Tracing Method calls using Logify

In the previous articles, we have seen how applications like Snoop-it can trace method calls specific to the application at runtime. This is very important in deducing the flow of the application. The same process can be performed by using a perl script named Logify.pl that comes installed with Theos. The script takes input as a header file and generates the hooking code that we can add in our tweak. We can also specify the classes we want to check. Once the tweak is installed on the device, whenever a method for that particular class is called, the tweak logs out the method along with the arguments to syslog. The first step here is to get the header files for a particular application. You can get the header files by using the -H option in class-dump-z. Once the headers folder is generated, you can copy it to your system.


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iOS Application Security Part 33 - Writing tweaks using Theos (Cydia Substrate)

In some of the previous articles in this series, we have looked at how we can modify the behaviour of an application by patching it using IDA Pro, Hopper etc. However, doing this hasn’t been quite straightforward always. We can also use Cycript to modify the behaviour of an application by changing some of the method implementations, but the change isn’t permanent. This is where writing tweaks for an application comes in handy. A tweak is nothing but a run-time patch to an application using the Cydia Substrate framework. Cydia Substrate consists of 3 major components: MobileHooker, MobileLoader and safe mode. You can read about these 3 major components here. Saurik has also written a complete series of documentation here. Our main focus here would be not to go in depth and learn how to write tweaks for jailbroken devices but to understand there relevance to application security so we can quickly write our own tweaks when necessary.

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iOS Application Security Part 32 - Automating tasks with iOS Reverse Engineering Toolkit (iRET)

While doing security audit of iOS apps, there are a lot of tasks that we have to repeat every time. This includes finding out the class information for the app, checking if the application stores any important data in plist files, analyzing the content in the database files etc. These tasks can be a little time consuming every time and so it doesn’t make quite a lot of sense to repeat them over and over again for every app. We have also looked at some tools like Snoop-it and iNalyzer that make our job easier by automating some of these tasks. In this article, we will talk about a new tool named iOS Reverse Engineering Toolkit (iRET) that has just been released to assist penetration testers in automating most of the tasks involved in a iOS penetration test. The project is developed and maintained by @S3Jensen.

In the author’s own words, here is what the toolkit does.

It’s a toolkit that allows you to automate many of the manual tasks an iOS penetration tester would need to perform in order to analyze and reverse engineering iOS applications. And the bonus is this can all be performed right on the device.

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iOS Application Security Part 31 - The problem with using third party libraries for securing your apps

In this article, we will talk about why we shouldn’t completely rely on using third party libraries for securing our apps. Usually, some of the things we try to do in our application are adding checks to detect piracy, jailbroken device etc. It is such a pain to write all the code from scratch which is why we usually resort to using third party libraries that can get the job done for us. In this example, we will be looking at a library named AntiPiracy which can be found on this url that aims to solve our problem.

On a first glance, it looks amazing .. here is a snippet of the description from it’s github page

The Full Shmoopi Anti-Piracy Library utilizes over a dozen algorithms to detect piracy, (not just four) including:

Signer Identity Checks Process ID Checks Plist Checks Bundled Item Checks (CodeRules, Resources, Etc) Encryption Checks Anti-Debugging Encryption Checks Anti-Tampering Binary Checks Integrity Checks CRC Checks MD5/SHA1 Hashing Checks *And much, much more…

Looks great. Here is a screenshot from its Github page that explains the implementation.

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How to distribute IPA file for jailbroken devices

So i have been getting a few queries on how to create an IPA file from Xcode and distribute it for jailbroken devices. Here is how i did it for Damn Vulnerable iOS App.

First we need to run the application using Xcode on the device. This requires a valid provisioning profile. I am doing this on Xcode 5.x but on the previous versions of Xcode, it was possible to run the application on the device without a valid provisioning profile.

Once the application is installed on the device, copy the .app folder from the device on your system.


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iOS Application Security Part 30 - Attacking URL schemes

In this article, we will look at how we can use a feature in iOS named url schemes to exploit an application. URL schemes are used by applications to communicate with each other. Every application can register for a particular url scheme. For e.g, the Damn Vulnerable iOS application registers for the url scheme dvia. This means that any url starting with dvia:// protocol will open up the dvia application. Depending on the parameters and the endpoint in this url, the dvia application can decide what to do it. Another example is the phone application in iOS. It registers for the url scheme tel and a url like tel://1-393-222-2222 will invoke the phone application and call a number. The problem arises when the url is not validated or the user is not prompted for confirmation in the application before making a particular decision.

The first step is to find the actual url scheme an application is registered to. This information can be found by looking at the info.plist file in the application sandbox folder using any file explorer utility like iExplorer.


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GDB segmentation fault issue fix with jailbroken device

If you have been experiencing segmentation fault issues with GDB while attaching to a process on a jailbroken iOS device, it is because the GDB that comes with Cydia is broken and you need to install a proper version.

You can download a proper working version of GDB from here.

You need to copy this executable into /usr/bin on your jailbroken iOS device and give it executable permissions.

If it still doesn’t work, let me know what issue you are facing by writing a comment below.

iOS Application Security Part 29 - Insecure or Broken Cryptography

In this article we will look at an example of Insecure or Broken Cryptography which is a common vulnerability found in most iOS applications. This vulnerability occurs when the data stored on the device is not encrypted properly thereby allowing a malicious user to gain access to that information. There could be many reasons for an improper implementaion of encrytption, using hardcoded keys for encryption, bad algorithms etc can all be the cause for an implementation that is not secure.

I would recommend you have a look at Apple’s documentation on Encrypting and hashing data.

In this article, we will look at an example of how we can spot and break an incorrectly implemented encrytion technique. For this article, we will be testing on the application InsecureCryptography-Demo that you can download from my Github profile. Download it and run on the simulator or on the device. Let’s look at what this application does. Once you start the application for the first time, it asks you to set up a new password to get started.


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iOS Application Security Part 28 - Patching iOS Application with Hopper

In Part 26 of this series, we looked at how we can use IDA Pro and Hex Fiend to patch an iOS application and modify its implementation. Patching an application has the specific advantage that once a change has been made, it is permanent. However, if you look back at the article on IDA Pro, you will realize that the process of patching the application was a bit tedious, mainly because we didn’t have a licensed version of IDA Pro which costs a lot. In this article, we will look at a utility named Hopper which we can use as an alternative to IDA Pro. It is less costly than IDA Pro and also provides a sleek interface to work with.

According to Hopperapp.com ..

Hopper is a reverse engineering tool for OS X, Linux and Windows, that lets you disassemble, decompile and debug (OS X only) your 32/64bits Intel Mac, Windows and iOS (ARM) executables! Take a look at the feature list below!

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iOS Application Security Part 27 - Setting up a mobile pentesting environment with iOS 7 Jailbreak

In this article we will look at how we can set up a mobile pentesting platform on our device with the new iOS 7 jailbreak. There has been quite a lot of discussion on the web about whether it is safe for a user to jailbreak their devices yet. However, if you are really interested in iOS pentesting then there is no absolutely no reason now why you shouldn’t jailbreak your device. Since this jailbreak was launched by the evasi0n team without any prior notice to the developers, most of the tweaks didn’t work with iOS 7 when the jailbreak was first made public. One of the most critical pieces of software Mobile Substrate which is used in many tweaks initially didn’t work on iOS 7. However, things have settled down since then. An update for Mobile Substrate (named Cydia Substrate) was released a few weeks back and many tweaks were also updated for iOS 7. Some things however don’t work well on iOS 7 devices. In this article, we will look at all those things which we need to do to set up a proper pentesting platform on a device running iOS 7.

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iOS Application Security Part 26 – Patching iOS Applications using IDA Pro and Hex Fiend

In the previous applications we have looked at how we can hijack method implementations during runtime using Cycript, and even change the logic of the code rather than changing the complete implementation using GDB. All of these things have been done to serve a purpose, which is to make the application do what we want. However, using Cycript or GDB is a bit of a pain as one has to do repeat the same process everytime after you restart the application. This is where patching the application is useful. Once a change has been made in the application’s binary, its permanent. So you don’t have to repeat the same process over and over again. Once the binary is patched, you can then run it on a jailbroken device with the changed logic.

In this article, we will be using the same application GDB-Demo that we had used in Part 22 of this series. If you remember, we had found a way to change the logic of the method that gets called when Login was tapped and hence bypassed the login authentication check. In this article, we are going to permanently patch this check so we are always authenticated.

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iOS Application Security Part 25 – Secure Coding Practices for iOS Development

In this article, we will look at some of the best practices an iOS developer should follow in order to make sure that their application is not easily exploitable by hackers.

Local Data Storage

It is extremely important for developers to know what kind of data they should be storing locally in their application. Frankly speaking, no data is secure when stored locally in the application. In part 20 of this series, we have looked at Local Data Storage in great detail.

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