Litecoin developer Loshan has claimed that Bitcoin and Litecoin wallets on iPhones including and older than the 2017 ‘X’ model are “considered insecure” following the revelation of an exploit that leaves private keys “at risk”. Loshan’s warning comes after a series of posts by iOS programmer axi0mX on Twitter that revealed the existence of a ‘checkm8’, a hardware-based exploit for all but the most recent iPhones and iPads which affects “hundreds of millions of iOS devices”.
Using a Bitcoin/Litecoin wallet on any iPhone older than & including the iPhone X is now considered insecure. I’d recommend upgrading you device. https://t.co/nn8NrOxCeL
— Loshan (@loshan1212) September 27, 2019
Calling checkm8 “possibly the biggest news in iOS jailbreak community in years”, axi0mX claims its existence “makes iOS better for everyone”, stating that those who implement it on their phones will “be safer”. Loshan clearly disagrees however, stating that as well as iPhones older than and including the iPhone X being insecure, iPads released before 2019 are also vulnerable, thanks to the exploit giving hackers the ability to steal private keys of wallets loaded onto the device. As this is a hardware-based exploit, Loshan warns that “Updating iOS will NOT help”, leaving users only one option – upgrade their phones.
Loshan’s Warning Overblown?
As scary as this sounds, the truth is a little less worrisome. As one user was quick to point out, the patch cannot work remotely – that is, the hacker has to be able to have physical access to the device in order to use the exploit. This massively reduces the number of vulnerable devices, a number further reduced by the amount of stolen phones that will have Bitcoin and Litecoin wallets installed on them. Essentially the warning is not so much about securing your private keys but securing your device, while some might take the creation of this exploit as a sign that they should be looking at other methods of storing their cryptocurrency, such as on a crypto hardware wallet.