Feeds

iTunes privacy hole shares library content with world+dog

Beware of SpyTunes

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A technology researcher has unearthed a privacy hole in Apple's iTunes Store that makes it easy for unauthorized people to learn what music, videos and apps you've acquired from the online bazaar.

The technique, which is described in a recent post by Andrew McAfee, exploits design weaknesses in a feature of the online store that allows one customer to send gifts to another iTunes customer. By creating a list of songs, videos or apps and telling iTunes the email address of the intended recipient, you can find out whether the person already has acquired the title from Apple.

“This is done with good intentions – to keep users from gifting music that the recipient already has – but the implementation of this feature opens up privacy concerns: if the check reveals duplicates,  iTunes tells the gifter about one of them,” McAfee writes. “The application presents this information to [the snoop] in red ink, before he has to sign in to his account, present credit card information, or take any other steps.”

What's more, the disclosure happens without notifying or getting permission from the recipient. All that's required is the email address the person uses with her iTunes account. People who exploit the weakness to spy on others need not sign into an account, provide a credit card number or take other steps, McAfee says.

No doubt, music purchases aren't the most sensitive of lists. Plenty of people are more than happy to share their music tastes with anyone who will listen. But as McAfee points out, the Video Privacy Protection Act imposes federal penalties on any person engaged in the business of renting, selling or delivering a “video tape” who publishes information about a customer's viewing habits.

And as Netflix has learned the hard way, publishing even innocuous-seeming details about what movies customers watch can have serious and unintended consequences.

Apple's response when users are given titles they've already acquired as gifts is in stark contrast to the way Amazon handles Amazon Kindle gifts that the recipient already owns. According to McAfee, Amazon lets the purchase go through, but instead of sending the receiver a title she already owns, gives her credit for the title instead.

“To put it mildly, this seems like a better approach to me,” McAfee says. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
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
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.