Feeds

Apple preps iOS fix as Germany warns of iPhone peril

Flick a slider, get rooted

Website security in corporate America

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. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.