Feeds

'Thousands of iPhone, iPad apps' vulnerable to simple redirect joyriders

Wanna edit the news yourself? Here's how, say security bods

SANS - Survey on application security programs

RSA Europe 2013 An Israeli security firm will expose a flaw common to thousands of iPhone and iPad applications, which allows miscreants to hijack software using persistent man-in-the-middle attacks.

"We identified a very large number of applications that are vulnerable to this problem," Skycure's CTO Yair Amit told The Register. The programming error will be revealed at the RSA Europe conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

"Usually we go through responsible disclosure and contact specific vendors of programs, solve it, then talk about it. In this case it's an interesting challenge in that there's a huge amount of applications, too many to have an organized disclosure route, so we give developers the information they need to fix the applications."

The researchers at Skycure have dubbed the attack HTTP Request Hijacking. It basically works by exploiting weaknesses in the way poorly written apps communicate with backend servers provided by their developers or indeed any websites.

An attacker needs to intercept an app's attempt to fetch data via HTTP and reply with a 301 code that tells the program the requested resource has moved permanently to another address, ie: one controlled by the hijacker.

The simple yet effective attack shifts the URL consulted by an application from that used by the developer to whatever the attacker fancies without needing to alert the user. Data expected to be fetched from the backend server will instead feed from the attacker's system, and conversely any information submitted by the app, however personal, will end up in the miscreant's hands.

There's no outward sign that the application has been subverted, Amit said, and once the application is breached it can be manipulated into providing any information sent down the line. He cited the hacked AP Twitter feed that briefly wiped billions off the Dow Jones Industrial Average in April as one possible use for the attack.

The 301 problem has been highlighted as a possible hacking vector before, and best coding practice involves setting up at least a secondary URL that the application automatically defaults to before accepting the redirect. But it seems few coders got the message on this, based on Skycure's research.

Fixing the issue is relatively simple. The company will post a source code fix that can be dropped into applications quickly by developers, and open up a repository of reference material that can be consulted to avoid the problem in the future. Amit said Apple was warned about the issue, but he added that the flaw was in application coding, rather than subverting iOS itself. ®

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
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
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
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
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.