A lot of people imagine that, when a file is deleted, it’s gone forever. In fact, photos and other files on your iPhone X can be easily hacked even long after you think you’ve wiped them from your device. Depending on what those are pictures of, that could be very embarrassing or much, much worse.
Discovered by hackers Richard Zhu and Amat Cama, the attack could be used via Wi-Fi, which puts it within reach for malicious hackers the world over.
The way the hack works is deceptively simple. The iPhone X has a feature which let the user recover deleted photos and videos. The process begins with a prompt from iOS: This photo will be deleted from iCloud Photos on all your devices. You’ll also find a Delete Photo button. If you don’t have iCloud, or if you’re out of storage space, the photo will be deleted immediately. But presuming everything’s okay with your iCloud service, the photo will be stored in the Recently Deleted folder. There you can delete it for good, or wait 40 days when it will be deleted automatically.
But that means your “deleted” files are on the iCloud, and vulnerable to hacking, for over a month!
Zhu and Cama found a way to remotely recover those deleted photos exploiting a vulnerability in the just-in-time (JIT) compiler. The JIT was designed to process code while the computer runs. Compromising that compiler makes the deleted files available for retrieval. And the system should work for any file, not merely photos; videos, data files of all sorts, virtually no information would be theoretically safe if deleted under these circumstances.
And this isn’t the only bit of bad news for Apple’s new iPhone, the X. The Indian Wire reports that production of the new iPhone production is limited by the expense of the face ID hardware, and the $1,000 price is further reducing the model’s popularity. Fewer units and fewer buyer result in a less successful product, a result which might be eluding Apple this time around.
Even Steve Wozniak, the Apple co-founder, has publicly expressed doubts about the iPhone X, saying, “For some reason, the iPhone X is going to be the first iPhone I didn’t — on day one — upgrade to. But my wife will, so I’ll be close enough to see it.”
But Apple’s immensely popular iPhones are certain to retain their popularity. In the meantime, until Apple announces a fix for the iPhone X’s vulnerability to hacking, the user is urged to immediately and permanently delete any photo or file which they don’t wish to be discovered, retrieved, and perhaps used to nefarious and criminal ends. With more personal freedom and greater technology than ever before, more people are vulnerable to compromise. Word to the wise remains to be scrupulous about what you delete if you’re not so conscientious about what you store in your phone in the first place.