Feeds

Apple Safari, Mail and more hit by SSL spying bug on OS X, fix 'soon'

iMessage, Facetime, Twitter and others blown apart by Apple's cert check cock-up

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Apple has admitted a bug in Mac OS X 10.9.1 allows hackers to intercept and decrypt SSL-encrypted network connections – and has promised to release a fix "very soon."

Sensitive information, such as bank card numbers and account passwords, sent over HTTPS, IMAPS and other SSL-protected channels from vulnerable Mac computers could easily end up in the hands of snoopers as a result of this security hole.

The Cupertino giant issued updates for versions 7 and 6 of its mobile operating system iOS on Friday to address the same flaw in iPhones, iPads and iPods.

But it quickly became apparent that the vulnerability also exists in desktop and laptop computers running Mac OS X Mavericks, the latest public release of Apple's desktop OS.

The security hole was created by a trivial programming cock-up, which causes Apple's SSL/TLS library to skip over vital verification checks of a server's authenticity when establishing a connection.

A malicious router, Wi-Fi access point or other man-in-the-middle system could exploit this to silently masquerade as a legit website or online service, and thus intercept, read and tamper with the private contents of a victim's supposedly secure connection.

Apple's Safari web browser and Mail client running on OS X 10.9.1 are vulnerable to SSL snoopers because they rely on the broken crypto-library; other Cupertino apps such as Facetime and iMessage, and third-party programs using Apple's crocked code, are all faulty as well. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are not vulnerable because they don't use the busted SSL library.

Tech-savvy users can use the otool command-line utility to determine whether an application is vulnerable by inspecting the libraries it loads. Apple's broken SSL library is version 55471, so grepping for that number from otool's output will reveal whether the program is using the knackered Security framework. For example...

otool -L `which ssh` | grep 55471

...produces no results because Apple's SSH (which declares itself to be SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_6.2) uses version 55456 of Apple's Security framework library. Unfortunately, several apps are using version 55471:

"We are aware of this issue and already have a software fix that will be released very soon," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters this weekend regarding the SSL certificate validation bug in OS X 10.9.1.

Meanwhile, someone's set up a website called gotofail.com, a reference to the C code bug at the heart of the problem, so that users can check whether their web browsers running on OS X 10.9.1 are vulnerable. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
JLaw, Kate Upton exposed in celeb nude pics hack
100 women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.