Mac Lion blindly accepts any LDAP password
'Huge hole' threatens enterprise networks
Apple's latest version of Mac OS X is creating serious security risks for businesses that use it to interact with a popular form of centralized networks.
People logging in to Macs running OS X 10.7, aka Lion, can access restricted resources using any password they want when the machines use a popular technology known as LDAP for authentication. Short for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, LDAP servers frequently contain repositories of highly sensitive enterprise data, making them a goldmine to attackers trying to burrow their way in to sensitive networks.
“As pen testers, one of the first things we do is attack the LDAP server,” Rob Graham, CEO of auditing firm Errata Security, said. “Once we own an LDAP server we own everything. I can walk up to any laptop (in an organization) and log into it.”
The LDAP breakdowns in Lion aren't well understood because Apple still hasn't admitted there's any problem. But according to threads here and here, it affects Macs running Lion that use LDAP to authenticate users to different desktop machines. After the initial login, Lion users can log in with any password. Apple's latest operating system, which was released last month, blindly accepts whatever pass code it's given.
Machines running Linux, Windows, and earlier versions of OS X authenticate just fine on the same LDAP servers, participants in the discussions reported. The are no widespread reports of problems when Lion machines log into networks that use protocols that compete with LDAP.
“Even though we have Open Directory running now (snark snark), we use OpenLDAP for our datacenter access and for clients,” a MacRumors newbie named monachus wrote. “Simply having Lion installed is a security vulnerability, as any user who can access OD settings can connect to the datacenter as any other users. It's a HUGE hole.”
The user said his company has delayed a company-wide upgrade to Lion because of the issue.
Lion users said the problem arose only after upgrading from earlier OS X versions. The first report was made on July 25, five days after the newest OS was released. Amazingly, Apple allowed the the security hole to persist even after last week's release of Lion 10.7.1, which fixed audio, video, and Wi-Fi glitches.
Apple's Mac has long been considered a safe haven from the malware and social engineering attacks that mar the experience of so many users of Microsoft's Windows OS. That's partly because the Mac's considerably smaller market share doesn't make it worth the investment to write highly weaponized exploits that hijack OS X users. It's also due in part to the non-trivial amount of resources and talent Apple has put into securing the OS, particularly in Lion.
Macs may be an excellent choice for individuals looking for a machine that's resistant to today's malware attacks found in the wild, but enterprises should think twice before deploying large fleets of them, a prominent security consultancy said recently. The recommendation is based on the finding that many of the OS X components used to administer Macs lack secure authentication protocols, making networks vulnerable to so-called APTs.
Short for advanced persistent threats, APTs are used to describe stealthy attacks used to steal proprietary data and national security information, such as those that have penetrated Google, RSA, and dozens of other corporations over the past 18 months.
“It's a pretty big deal for customers using LDAP as their authentication scheme, and it demonstrates that enterprise deployment scenarios are obviously not part of Apple's regression testing plan,” said Alex Stamos, one of the researchers at iSec Partners who said large corporate customers probably shouldn't deploy large number of Macs for now. “Hopefully heavy coverage of these issues will lead Apple to invest security resources into improving the areas of OS X important to enterprise users, not just end consumers.” ®
This article was updated to change language describing protocols that compete with LDAP and threats facing Macs.
I wouldn't count on it...
... I work for a PLC, and our CEO is a total Mac / Iphone / Ipad addict. It's taken me several years of damned hard work to stop him rolling out Macs, Iphones and Ipads to all staff. The only thing that's managed to keep them out is when he's been adamant we have to switch throughout I've insisted on doing a penetration test on his gear. I tell him to assume I've broken into his car, and taken his Mactop, iphone and ipad (which he's always bought on impulse when visiting the apple store), and I've always managed to get his passwords, his bank and other stuff I shouldn't be able to get. The problem is he (like many other mac users) believe that macs are secure by default, without any of those Windoze issues. Therefore, he does nothing to secure his machines, to the point of not letting me secure them, but then why would he, Macs are secure by default!!!.
Apparently we'll save a fortune on IT admin costs if we switch, but it's all based on him not understanding that most of IT's admin costs is on security, and us being able to prove via system monitoring, logging and auditing, that we havent been compromised. There really are some colourful board meetings about this.
No doubt I'll be in undated with unix admins telling me how secure macs are if I properly rolled them out, but, in his eyes, replacing everything with macs = get rid of the IT dept and make huge savings, therefore nothing would be properly secured, because as all mac users know, they are secure by default :)
Client data is what is compromised
It is the client data, meant to be protected via Ldap authentication, that is compromised.
The client needs to process a failed authentication. It is NOT always about the server.
Eg user say in admin group logs in via ldap with right password.
Mac os sees successful auth, and grants admin rights.
Users walks away, logs out
Another user comes along, logs in as user1 with bad password.
Lion ignores failed authentication.
Welcome to Lion, Stranger. You have local admin rights. What would you like to do on this client?
Not a protocol issue!
This is not a protocol failure: the issue is that the OS X LDAP client allows a user to login no matter what password has been used.
Active Directory requires a client that works properly too. It's perfectly possible to write a GINA or Authentication Provider that allows a user to login with the wrong password, even if the Windows box is joined to a domain. The user won't get access to Windows file shares if they do, because they won't have a valid Kerberos ticket, but they'll be logged into the local machine just fine. Fortunately Microsoft does not supply such a pointless authentication provider with the OS. Unlike Apple.
This is just a massive cock-up by Apple.