Needle is an open source, modular framework to streamline the process of conducting security assessments of iOS apps.
NOTE: This tool has been decomissioned and is no longer maintained. We are leaving the original project up for archival purposes.
Needle was originally made to work with iOS 9 and iOS 10. Since then, Frida was released and became the defacto tool to use with mobile security assessments. Some common Frida mobile security scripts were later implemented within Needle, as some of these scripts worked better or addressed some issues that were present in Needle's custom tooling.
With the release of iOS 11 came additional security protections that were good for the consumer, but bad for Needle. These enhancements essentially broke Needle's functionality, and thus F-Secure were faced with two options:
- Re-write Needle from the ground up, potentially using Frida as a base
- Recommend another well estalbished tool that would contain the same functionality as Needle
F-Secure chose the latter option, as some of our consultants had already started using and contributing to another tool when Needle's fate was being discussed. The third party tool is called Objection and can be found here:
Needle can still be used on devices running iOS 10 and below. If the device is running iOS 11 or above, F-Secure recommends that you use Objection instead.
Assessing the security of an iOS application typically requires a plethora of tools, each developed for a specific need and all with different modes of operation and syntax. The Android ecosystem has tools like "drozer" that have solved this problem and aim to be a ‘one stop shop’ for the majority of use cases, however iOS does not have an equivalent.
Needle is the MWR's iOS Security Testing Framework, released at Black Hat USA in August 2016. It is an open source modular framework which aims to streamline the entire process of conducting security assessments of iOS applications, and acts as a central point from which to do so. Needle is intended to be useful not only for security professionals, but also for developers looking to secure their code. A few examples of testing areas covered by Needle include: data storage, inter-process communication, network communications, static code analysis, hooking and binary protections. The only requirement in order to run Needle effectively is a jailbroken device.
The release of version 1.0.0 provided a major overhaul of its core and the introduction of a new native agent, written entirely in Objective-C. The new NeedleAgent is an open source iOS app complementary to Needle, that allows to programmatically perform tasks natively on the device, eliminating the need for third party tools.
Needle has been presented at and used by workshops in various international conferences like Black Hat USA/EU, OWASP AppSec and DEEPSEC. It was also included by ToolsWatch in the shortlist for the Top Security Tools of 2016, and it is featured in the OWASP Mobile Testing Guide.
Needle is open source software, maintained by MWR InfoSecurity.
See the Installation Guide in the project Wiki for details.
- Workstation: Needle has been successfully tested on both Kali and macOS
- Device: iOS 8, 9, and 10 are currently supported
Usage instructions (for both standard users and contributors) can be found in the project Wiki.
Needle is released under a 3-clause BSD License. See the
LICENSE file for full details.