Feeds

Security researchers break out of Apple's sandbox

Apple not fussed

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Researchers claim to have discovered a vulnerability with the sandbox security mechanism used by Apple.

The sandbox, which is baked into the kernel of Mac OS X, is designed to apply application restrictions, so that code that has no reason to access a network isn't able to access a corporate LAN or the internet, for example. The restriction means that even if the code contains bugs, hackers will be stuck if they try to exploit the vulnerability to do anything else.

All applications published through the App Store "must implement sandboxing" by the start of March 2012.

However, at least according to Core Security, the sandboxing is flawed. Processes directly spawned by a sandboxed application are blocked but indirectly spawned processes are permitted, according to Core, which has published an advisory containing harmless proof of concept code to illustrate its concerns.

The upshot of this is that "you can use Apple Script to tell OS X to start some other arbitrary program (or a second copy of your own) which won't inherit your sandbox settings," explains Paul Ducklin of net security firm Sophos.

Rather than make its sandbox harder to break out of, Apple reportedly wants to address Core's finding by documenting that its restrictions can't be assumed to apply to any process other than the sandboxed one. Core is less than satisfied by this response and wants stricter sandbox controls.

The timeline of Core's dialogue with Apple over the issue once again illustrates the problematic relationship between Apple and security researchers most clearly illustrated by its expulsion of renowned security researcher Charlie Miller from its developer programme last week. Miller found a security hole in iOS that created a means for an application download new unapproved software onto an iPhone or iPad. An application he created exploiting this vulnerability was approved and published on Apple's App Store.

This earned Apple's ire, and expulsion, but if Miller hadn't proved that the problem was real Apple might have been tempted to dismiss it as purely theoretical. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.