Variation on 1970 date bug can be used to remotely brick pre-iOS 9.3 devices via Wi-Fi hotspots [Updated]
Update: Sources close to Apple tell us that, contrary to the original claim, this issue – like the original one – was resolved in iOS 9.3. We also understand that Apple was able to successfully restore the test devices sent to it by the researchers.
While iOS 9.3 fixed a bug that bricked iOS devices when the date was set to January 1, 1970, security researchers have found a variation on the theme that can remotely brick devices as soon as they connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot. The exploit uses a combination of two weaknesses discovered in iOS, reports KrebsonSecurity.
The first is that iOS devices automatically reconnect to known Wi-Fi hotspots, but rely on the SSID to identity them. iPhones and iPads will auto-connect to a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot that spoofs the name of a known one.
Second, iOS devices are programmed to constantly check that their time and date settings are correct by connecting to Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers. All the researchers had to do was create their own Wi-Fi hotspot labelled ‘attwifi’ (as used by Starbucks) and their own NTP server pretending to be time.apple.com to deliver the January 1, 1970 date …