Intel's Moorestown would make iPhone less secure

Putting Intel's Moorestown chips in a future version of the iPhone could make the handset less secure, a researcher warned.

Putting Intel's Moorestown chip package inside a future version of the iPhone would make the smart phone less secure, according to an independent security researcher.

"That will make the iPhone x86 and that will make a lot of attacks easier," said Dino Dai Zovi, an independent security researcher, in an interview at the Hack In The Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Due for release in 2009 or 2010, Moorestown is a chip package designed for smart phones and other handheld computers. The heart of the package is an upcoming version of Intel's Atom's processor, an inexpensive low-power x86 processor. Apple has never said it intends to use Moorestown in future products, but Intel is widely believed to be hopeful that Apple will adopt the chip package.

"The iPhone uses the Arm processor and most people are not familiar with it," Dai Zovi said, noting that x86 processors are familiar territory for malware writers and hackers looking for vulnerabilities.

"If you're doing exploits and vulnerability research, you need to know the specifics of the processor that's running," he said.

Dai Zovi is a well-recognized figure in computer security circles and is widely known for winning a 2007 hacking contest that involved hacking into a MacBook Pro laptop. The feat by Dai Zovi and partner Shane Macaulay won them the MacBook Pro as well as a US$10,000 prize, and laid to rest popular misconceptions that MacOS X was somehow immune from the type of security vulnerabilities that affect Windows-based computers.

Intel executives declined to comment on Dai Zovi's remarks, saying any discussion of a Moorestown-based iPhone is purely hypothetical. In addition, they said Intel's policy is to decline comment on other companies' products.

MacOS X is seen as generally safer than Windows, because the small market share of MacOS X means most malware writers and hackers choose to focus their efforts on Windows instead. But that could change as iPhone sales boost the number of MacOS X users.

"The iPhone is another OS X platform and whereas now the market share for OS X is definitely under 10 percent on desktops, on smart phones they recently sold more phones than RIM," Dai Zovi said, referring to the maker of the BlackBerry line of handheld devices.

The iPhone runs a slimmed-down version of MacOS X, the operating system used in Apple's desktop and laptop computers. As a result, some of the security features that are included in the desktop version of MacOS X are not included in the phone version.

"The iPhone is significantly less secure than the desktop version of OS X," Dai Zovi said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags moorestowniPhone

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sumner Lemon

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?