An anonymous hacker, or possibly a team of hackers, have won a 1 million dollar bounty from Zerodium for figuring out how to control a new iPhone remotely.
Zerodium announced back in September that the bounty, dubbed the “Million dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty”, is meant to lure security researchers, reverse engineers and jailbreak developers to crack security on the new Apple operating system. Teams and individuals had until October 31st of this year to submit their exclusive, browser-based and untethered jailbreak/exploit.
There were some strict rules on the competition. The jailbreak/exploit had to have a chain of iOS 9 exploits bypassing all mitigation systems including ASLR, sandboxes, code signing, and bootchains, and must allow the remote installation of an app on an iOS 9 device.
“All submissions must be made exclusively to Zerodium and must include the fully functioning exploit and its source code (if any), and a detailed whitepaper describing all the zero-day vulnerabilities and techniques used in the jailbreak,” stated the rules and regulations, “The whole exploitation/jailbreak process should be achievable remotely, reliably, silently, and without requiring any user interaction except visiting a web page or reading a SMS/MMS (attack vectors such as physical access, Bluetooth, NFC, or baseband are not eligible for the Million Dollar iOS 9 Bug Bounty. Zerodium may, at its sole discretion, make a distinct offer to acquire such attack vectors).”
“Making the jailbreak remotely triggerable via Safari or Chrome requires at least two to three additional exploits compared to a local jailbreak,” Founder of the start-up, Chaouki Bekrar, told Motherboard.
The winner(s) submitted their jailbreak mere hours before the deadline, and were one of only two submissions. They discovered a number of vulnerabilities in Chrome and iOS, that allowed them to take control of the phone remotely. Zerodium is keeping the hackers identities anonymous, and there is no information on what the company plans to do with the exploit. Zerodium is known for sharing the information they find with government agencies, like the NSA.
This information could be very concerning, since Apple built the latest iPhones to not even be crackable by Apple themselves. Some think that this tactic was to protect Apple from having to work with the government against user privacy.
Zerodium is still testing the exploit to make sure that it is viable. The reward will only be doled out if it’s proven to work.
For information on how you can prevent your organization from being breached, visit www.miltonsecurity.com or call 714-515-4011.