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Defend against password-stealing malware on jailbroken iOS devices

A variety of malware that steals passwords from jailbroken iPhones and iPads is becoming an enterprise concern. Expert Nick Lewis explains how to mitigate the risk.

I read about a new variety of malware that steals passwords from jailbroken iPhones and iPads. What is the best way to defend against the threat?

The first action to defend against a password-stealing threat on a jailbroken device is to not jailbreak the phone in the first place. While there are many benefits of jailbreaking a phone, it significantly affects the security of the device and basically breaks some of the core security protections in iPhones.

Apple has built strict controls on the iOS app store to protect iPhones from malicious threats by preventing malware from infiltrating the app store, and also ensuring malware cannot be installed on factory default iPhones. Both of these security mechanisms are disabled when an iPhone is jailbroken.

An enterprise could detect jailbroken devices by using a mobile device management tool that can flag jailbroken devices. Then, the enterprise could follow-up with the employee to identify if they jailbroke the device themselves. If the users did not jailbreak the phone themselves, further investigation should be performed.

Jailbroken devices can also be detected via a port scan and OS detection that flags iOS devices with non-default ports open on the device. Alternately, a rule could be set up in an intrusion detection system that detects HTTP fingerprints for common apps on jailbroken iPhones.

Enterprises could also prevent passwords from being stolen by using two-factor authentication. This would help protect the authentication process and minimize the chance of a user account being compromised. But again, the best approach is to not use jailbroken iOS devices at all.

Next Steps

Learn more about jailbroken device security risks and what IT can (and can't) do to prevent jailbreaking.

This was last published in October 2014

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How does your enterprise detect jailbroken devices and remediate the risks?