iPhone and security : biased information from press

Posted: September 3, 2008 in Apple

What did happen this thursday at TF1 national news (8pm, France). The screener switched (without any logic) from a technology subject to a “serous security flaw in iPhone that Apple finally recognized… the flaw was said to be easily reproduced in 3 steps… and the comment ended saying it was the first dismiss for Apple at a time where it tries to enter the enterprise market”. We can read the corresponding article on the channel site.

The truth (minor bug, not a security flaw at all) was first revealed in a Macrumors forum, then it was relayed by Gizmodo that did add a lot of buzz and distorded the reallity (at least after users attempted to clarify the bug nature in the article comments, what didn’t seem to please the article’s author so he went further in his statements of serious flaw). The news ended being reported in general medias without mentioning the most important fact, that is for the bug to be reproduced, we must have physical access to the iPhone (so have sollen it or borrowed it) !
So in the first case the phone will logically be locked by the carrier, and in the second case there souldn’t be any harm. The bug has to do with the iPhone phone password protection (second password, the first being the SIM card password), what purpose is to lock the phone when on (unuseful if it is off, the SIM card password being there to prevent the use). In fact nobody ever use the phone password (and most people aren’t aware of this feature in their phone – all of them provide that feature). So this has nothing to do with the iPhone in particular. Moreover, only contacts can be grabbed due to the bug, provided they have been added to the favorite page. Neither being able to launch Safari or Mail if a contact contains an email adress or a link is that dangerous.

Finally, the bug (stated as minor by Apple) was fixed previously and the fix will be available in the next 2.1 iPhone firmware due to September, and it still can be fixed through redefining the Home button double-click action (targeting it to iPod mode instead of favorite page).

Then, did the press have been “encouraged’ by Apple’s competitors to provide a wrong information (with huge impact), just before Orange announced they sold 116 000 iPhones 3G in France in less than a month following the July, 17 introduction (their was holdays and shortage), and the other french carrier (SFR) revealed it sold 42 000 units. The attack targeted to Apple capability to enter the enterprise market leads to think that… or reporters are still so bad !
Then Apple France has to ask for a new press statement to clarify the facts. Steve Jobs certainly didn’t like that… and the engineer that developed the locking feature is still probably out (the second following the MobileMe pseudo-fiasco).


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