A security researcher discovered that hackers can abuse iOS permissions to create apps that can secretly spy on victims through the iPhone camera, raising fresh concerns over iOS security issues.
With the exploit now out in the open, should iPhone owners concerned about their privacy start covering the cameras of their devices?
Hackers Can Spy On Victims Through iPhone Camera
Felix Krause, the security researcher who discovered the vulnerability, presented his proof of concept on the issue through a blog post.
iOS apps, when installed and first launched on an iPhone, ask for permission from users if they want to gain access to the device's components such as the camera, Photos, and location. However, Krause showed that it was possible for hackers to abuse this granting of permissions to secretly take pictures and record videos through the iPhone camera.
In a demo app that Krause created, he showed that it can take pictures of the user through the iPhone's front-facing camera after the app was granted permission. Once the user grants permission to the app, it will be able access the camera any time that it is running. The compromised app can then also upload the secretly taken images and videos to its servers and could even possibly run facial recognition on users to identify their identities.
According to Krause, the problem is that iOS apps are given blanket permission over features. There is no way for users to monitor if an app is using the iPhone's camera and will have to dive into the device's Settings to disable the permissions.
How Can Apple Solve This New iOS Privacy Problem?
Krause himself made proposals on how Apple can solve this newfound iOS privacy issue, though it remains to be seen whether Apple will listen.
Apple can adjust the iOS to have a way to only temporarily grant access to feature or to make the iPhone show an icon or make the status bar visible whenever the camera is active. Krause also suggested the addition of an LED to both iPhone cameras that will show if the camera is recording a video or taking a picture.
In the meantime, users who are worried about their privacy can purchase covers for their iPhone cameras, or crudely use sticky notes to block them. There is also the choice of disabling camera permissions for all installed apps.