Frustrated dev drops three zero-day vulns affecting Apple iOS 15 after six-month wait

Security Bounty program slammed over 'broken promises'

Upset with Apple's handling of its Security Bounty program, a bug researcher has released proof-of-concept exploit code for three zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple's newly released iOS 15 mobile operating system.

The bug hunter, posting on Thursday to Russia-based IT blog Habr under the name IllusionOfChaos and to Twitter under the same moniker, expressed frustration with Apple's handling of vulnerability reports.

"I've reported four 0-day vulnerabilities this year between March 10 and May 4, as of now three of them are still present in the latest iOS version (15.0) and one was fixed in 14.7, but Apple decided to cover it up and not list it on the security content page," the researcher wrote.

"When I confronted them, they apologized, assured me it happened due to a processing issue and promised to list it on the security content page of the next update. There were three releases since then and they broke their promise each time."

The researcher added that the vulnerability dump conforms with responsible disclosure practices, noting that Apple was informed and has done nothing. And though the programming blunders are not terribly dire, from what we can tell, they ought to be addressed at some point.

Apple on Thursday issued a patch for macOS Catalina to address a different zero-day, having gone through a similar exercise ten days earlier to address a zero-click iMessage bug used to target human rights activists and other flaws.

The three unpatched iOS flaws include:

  • Gamed 0-day, which provides access to sensitive data such as Apple ID email address, full name, the associated Apple ID authentication token, read access to a shared contacts database, the speed dial database, and the Address Book.
  • Nehelper Enumerate Installed Apps 0-day, which allows ​​any user-installed app to determine whether any other app is installed.
  • Nehelper Wi-Fi Info 0-day, which allows an app with location access permission to use Wi-Fi without the required entitlement.

The fixed flaw, Analyticsd, allowed a user-installed app to gain access to a shared set of analytics logs that contain medical data, device usage information, device accessory data, crash data, and language settings for viewed web pages.

IllusionOfChaos said the collection of this data shows the hypocrisy of Apple's claims to care about privacy. "All this data was being collected and available to an attacker even if 'Share analytics' was turned off in settings," the researcher said.

Kosta Eleftheriou, the developer behind the Apple Watch keyboard app FlickType (who earlier this year sued Apple for App Store market abuse), said via Twitter that he tested the Gamed 0-day on iOS 14.8 and iOS 15 and confirmed that it works as advertised.

"The bugs are neat, but unlikely to be widely exploited," security researcher Patrick Wardle, founder of free security project Objective See and director of research at security biz Synack, told The Register. "Any app that attempted to (ab)use them would need to first be approved by Apple, via the iOS app Store."

"To me, the bigger takeaway is that Apple is shipping iOS with known bugs," Wardle continued, noting that IllusionOfChaos claims to have reported the bugs months ago. "And that security researchers are so frustrated by the Apple Bug Bounty program they are literally giving up on it, turning down (potential) money, to post free bugs online."

Wardle said he considered the researcher's critique of Apple's Security Bounty program to be fair.

"It's not that Apple doesn't have resources or money to fix this," he said. "Clearly it's just not a priority to them. "IMHO, the underlying reason is Apple's hubris gets in the way. They (still) don't see security researchers or white-hat hackers as being on the same side."

"Apple's internal security team gets it, but at the higher up, cultural level, they've all drunk the Apple juice, and believe their way is the right way, and they don't need any external help."

While some developers have found Apple's Security Bounty program rewarding, others share the frustration expressed by IllusionOfChaos. In July, 2020, Jeff Johnson, who runs app biz Lapcat Software, went public with a privacy bypass vulnerability because Apple failed to fix the bug he had reported. At the time, he told The Register, "Talking to Apple Product Security is like talking to a brick wall."

The Register asked Apple to comment, but the brick wall did not respond. ®

Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022