iPhones nearly impossible to hack with spyware unless they’re jailbroken

By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 13, 2014 07:17 AM EDT


Hacking your way into an iOS device is nearly impossible apparently, at least according to security researchers from German company Gamma Group.

Smartphone security is a huge concern nowadays, as mobile devices often hold plenty of sensitive info. Smartphones are no longer used just for their basic call and text functionality, they are increasingly used for mobile payments, digital wallets, online profiles, web surfing, and so much more. A hacked phone could put sensitive information into the wrong hands, but iOS users are apparently safer than others.

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Gamma Group recently detailed its failed attempt at hacking into iOS to gain access to iPhones. More specifically, the firm's spyware called FinSpy can break into almost any Android device, Windows Phone handsets, and BlackBerry devices, but it can't break into the iPhone if the device is not jailbroken.

The Washington Post was the first to spot the intriguing document (PDF) from Gamma Group, which notes that FinSpy is "designed to help Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies to remotely monitor mobile phones and tablet devices."

More specifically, FinSpy grants access to a device's messages, phone calls, location data, contracts, and other sensitive data, and does it remotely. In other words, it's a great tool for governments to spy on the population.

As Digital Trends points out, previous reports have proved that such spyware has already been used in the U.S., the UK, Germany, Russia, Iran, and Bahrain, to spy on computers and various devices.

With iOS, however, FinSpy has apparently hit a wall, as it cannot take over an iPhone. In fact, FinSpy has only managed to break into jailbroken iOS devices, as those were left without most of Apple's built-in security features after the jailbreak. In other words, Apple's "walled garden" ecosystem might frustrate some iOS users, but it pays off when it comes to security. With this in mind, iOS users will likely think twice before jailbreaking their device.

Android, meanwhile, is a far more open platform, which means that it's also more vulnerable to hacks. It's easier to break into an Android device than an iPhone, and the latest report from Gamma Group proves it yet again.


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