Feeds

Apple preps iOS fix as Germany warns of iPhone peril

Flick a slider, get rooted

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Apple plans to issue fixes for two security flaws that when exploited together allow attackers to remotely install malicious apps on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

Although the critical vulnerabilities surfaced over the weekend, Apple officials didn't acknowledge them until Wednesday, the same day the German government warned that the vulnerabilities could be exploited when users viewed booby-trapped websites or email messages. No other user action is required.

CNET reported that an Apple spokeswoman issued a statement saying the company is aware of the bugs and “we have already developed a fix and it will be available to customers in an upcoming software update.” The statement didn't say when the update would be released.

So far, the only documented exploit of the bugs is on Jailbreakme.com, a site that makes it possible to jailbreak the Apple devices by doing nothing more than visiting the site and flicking a slider. The hack is innocuous and transparent, but there's nothing preventing malicious attackers from using the same vulnerabilities to do much more nefarious things — and that could happen soon, the German Federal Office for Information Security warned.

"It has to be expected that hackers will soon use the weak spots for attacks," the agency said in a statement. “This allows potential attackers access to the complete system, including administrator rights.”

The Jailbreakme site exploits two distinct iOS vulnerabilities to pull off the hack. The first exploits a bug in Apple software that parses fonts in PDF files. That allows hackers to inject code of their choosing into the document-viewing app. A second bug allows them to break out of a security sandbox built into the devices so the code can access the root of the device.

Without a doubt, the unpatched vulnerabilities are the most serious to hit an unlocked mobile device from Apple since the iPhone debuted in 2007. If we didn't know better, we'd think the bugs were spawned by Adobe or Microsoft, considering the minimal amount of user interaction required and the ability of a successful exploit to completely root a device.

As such, iPhone users may want to think twice about following links included in Twitter, chat messages, and emails until the patch is released. Websense has a list here of alternate browsers that require a user to click on a button before PDFs are opened.

But because iPhones by default automatically open PDFs included in email, truly paranoid users may want to hold off checking email until the patch is released. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.