Feeds

Skype for iPhone makes stealing address books a snap

Just add JavaScript

SANS - Survey on application security programs

If you use Skype on an iPhone or iPod touch, Phil Purviance can steal your device's address book simply by sending you a chat message.

In a video posted over the weekend, the security researcher makes the attack look like child's play. Type some JavaScript commands into the user name of a Skype account, use it to send a chat message to someone using the latest version of Skype on an iPhone or iPod touch, and load a small program onto a webserver. Within minutes, you'll have a fully-searchable copy of the victim's address book.

“I'm going to send a user on an iPhone a message, and when he sees the message, the exploit will run,” the narrator says. “When the exploit code is run, the victim's iPhone will automatically make a new connection to my server to grab a larger payload instructing the victim's iPhone to upload its entire address book file to the server.”

The attack exploits two oversights that just go to show that even elaborately erected walled gardens such as Apple's can contain threats that menace its blissful inhabitants. The first is a failure by Skype to sanitize potentially dangerous JavaScript commands from the text that gets sent in chat messages. Skype for Macs recently succumbed to a similar XSS, or cross-site scripting, vulnerability that allowed attackers to commandeer a victim's computer simply by viewing a malicious message.

The other lapse making Purviance's attack possible was the decision by iOS developers to make the file storing address-book contents accessible to every app installed, including Skype. That means all that's required to steal a full list of contacts is to find and exploit a vulnerability in a single program installed on a victim's device.

In a Web 2.0 kind of world, contacts for many people aren't exactly closely guarded secrets. For many others – say, attorneys and people who work with survivors of domestic abuse – the names, addresses and phone numbers of contacts are sensitive information.

It's already been 48 hours since this vulnerability was first documented, and the vulnerable app is still available in the iTunes Store. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Apple and Skype to close the gaping hole. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.