Feeds

Jesus Phone vuln delivers fanboys to phishermen

Apple silent on 'pretty dumb design flaw'

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A security expert is advising iPhone users to steer clear of the device's default email application until engineers rework what he calls "a pretty dumb design flaw" that could expose users' email addresses to spammers and other online frauds.

The warning comes two and months after researcher Aviv Raff first reported two email-related vulnerabilities in the iPhone to Apple's security department. Apple has updated the gadget three times since then, but has yet to fix either weakness. Late last week, after Apple refused to say when the patches might be delivered, Raff decided to publicly disclose the technical details.

The first defect resides in Apple's Mail application. Unlike most email clients, the program automatically downloads images embedded in HTML mail messages. That can be a problem for people who want to fly under the radar of spammers because the downloading of so-called beacon images embedded in spam and phishing messages are one technique scammers use to sort live email accounts from inactive ones.

"The iPhone's Mail application downloads all images automatically, and there is NO WAY to disable this feature!" Raff writes in this blog item. "So, my only suggestion is to avoid using the Mail application until a fix is available."

Raff disclosed details of a separate iPhone flaw that puts users at risk of visiting websites secretly under the control of miscreants. The flaw, which resides in Mail and the iPhone version of the Safari browser, truncates the names of long internet addresses, making it them appear to be friendly when in fact they are not.

Image of iPhone showing truncated address

In the screenshot above, for example, the link appears to point to https://securelogin.facebook.com/reset.php?cc=534a556abd1006&tt=1212620963 when in fact, it points to a site controlled by Raff. When a user clicks on the link, Safari opens and the address bar shows only https://securelogin.facebook.com/reset.php?cc=534a556abd1006&tt=1212620963, further making it hard for users to know they've been led astray.

"The problem here is that an attacker can set a long subdomain (~24 characters) that, when cut off in the middle, will look as if it's a trusted domain," Raff wrote.

Apple representatives didn't respond to an email requesting comment for this story. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.