Since joining Intrepidus Group, I’ve spent a good deal of time helping to assess risk and craft security guidelines for iOS devices in large enterprises. A major factor in securing iStuff in the enterprise relies upon the use of Mobile Device Management technology (MDM). MDM has been around for a while, especially for some of the older, more corporately-established mobile devices (like BlackBerry or Windows Mobile). Last summer, though, Apple jumped into the arena, adding support for their devices as part of iOS 4.0.
Unfortunately, the way that MDM works for iOS hasn’t been very well described, publicly. Which makes it difficult when you’re trying to demonstrate to a customer that it will make their enviroment more secure.
So I set about doing everything I could to understand, at a deep, technical level, exactly how the technology worked. We were already pretty satisifed, abstractly, with the features and capabilities of Apple’s MDM, but we felt it necessary to go that extra step to truly know what it’s doing. The end result of this is that we now have a mostly-complete understanding of how the protocol works.
If you’re coming to Black Hat next week, you’ll have a chance to see me talk about all of this in person. I start with how iOS settings work, move into additional features available through the iPhone Configuration Utility, and then start talking about MDM. The talk shows in detail how MDM uses the Apple Push Notification Service, and describes the message format used to make that notification. It’ll also document the interaction between device and server, from authentication and enrollment to receiving commands and providing responses. Enough detail is provided to enable you to write your own experimental MDM server (or, you could simply use the one I’ll be releasing at the talk).
Finally, I’ll talk about some limitations and weaknesses I’ve uncovered, and their potential security ramifications. There might even be a surprise for those hardy enough to sit through the whole talk.
There will even be live demos. :)
This is going to be quite the experience for me. If your work involves securing iOS devices, especially at the enterprise level, please drop by and give a listen. If you can’t make it, check back here after the conference — I hope to write up some of the more interesting bits of the talk for a standalone post, and we should also have the slides, white paper, and source code available for download at some point.
See you in Vegas!
Published date:  28 July 2011
Written by:  dschuetz