Chinese Security Team Exploits Safari Security Flaw at PWN2OWN

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Every year for the past seven years, hackers have gathered at the annual PWN2OWN event to hack high-profile software and mobile devices using previously unknown vulnerabilities. Apple's Safari browser and iOS platform are often included in the annual contest, which also targets Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Adobe's Flash and Reader applications. This year, Safari was taken down on day two by a team of vulnerability researchers and exploit developers from China, reports ThreatPost.

    China's Keen team exploited two vulnerabilities that allowed the team to execute arbitrary code using a Safari WebKit flaw and circumvent Apple's sandbox via an OS X system-level vulnerability. Speaking about the vulnerabilities they found, the Keen team stated that Apple's OS X is difficult to exploit and the operating system overall is very secure.
    Apple representatives attended the contest and were made aware of the security exploits used in the contest. This isn't the first time Safari has been exploited during the contest. In 2011, a team of French security researchers compromised a MacBook by remotely running code within five seconds of contacting the machine.

    Article Link: Chinese Security Team Exploits Safari Security Flaw at PWN2OWN
  2. nt5672 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    Public awareness of security flaws is the best way to ensure the security of our devices. Thank you Chinese security team.
  3. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    I wonder if the hacker praise is real or just polite words. Hopefully, we will see a Safari update soon.
  4. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
  5. thaifood macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2011
    I'm sure there is professional praise. Plus it's essentially free debug testing for the companies participating.
  6. 2457282 Suspended

    Dec 6, 2012
    The article also said the team felt that Safari was more secure than other platforms. I am no expert but it does look like at least one is simple to fix and if I understood correctly you would have to use both to really get control. So if they fix either it would solve the problem.

    Having said all that, if this is the most secure, the others have some really big problems.
  7. BigBeast macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2009
    I would guess that if the second vulnerability circumvents sandboxing, that it should be the first fix. Webkit vulnerabilities are almost inevitable; that's why sandboxing exists. If sandboxing doesn't catch the threat or is bypassed, that's a greater weakness.
  8. JerryCards macrumors member


    Nov 20, 2011
    Richmond, VA
    The most secure OS maybe FreeBSD or Linux. MAC OS X evolved from FreeBSD or Unix. OS X contains indecent number of vulnerabilities, but, still can be considered relatively safe.
  9. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    I think you mean OpenBSD, which has a greater focus on security. Mac OS X is based on FreeBSD.
  10. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    Which one of thousand existing Linux distributives are you talking about? Linux is not an OS, its a kernel - and this is the reason why Linux is not even considered at PWN2OWN. The kernel is usually quite secure, its the software stack on its top that has vulnerabilities.
  11. iamkarlp macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2008
    Indeed. And with the average GUI linux install being anywhere between 3~10 GB on disk, with the kernel only making up ~100MB of that, there is a lot of software stack to go around.

    Karl P
  12. mrxak macrumors 68000

    Apr 16, 2004
    Drifting through space in a broken escape pod
    Obviously it's better to see these exploits happen at PWN2OWN than have them suddenly spring up in the wild. Apple and other companies attend events like this in order to quickly fix any problems that are demonstrated.
  13. laurihoefs, Mar 14, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014

    laurihoefs macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2013
    Yes it is, indeed.

    We do not know if the security team in question are the first ones to discover this vulnerability, so someone might have already attempted to exploit it, and even succeeded. Now that information about the flaw is out in the open all affected parties are aware of the issue, and can start working to get it fixed. No-one has to rely on security-by-obscurity.

    Sincerely: Thank you team Keen.
  14. VanillaCracker macrumors 68020


    Apr 11, 2013
    Washington D.C.
    Yeahhhh :D
  15. JerryCards macrumors member


    Nov 20, 2011
    Richmond, VA
    Most major distributions of linux should be pretty secure. Like Ubuntu, Linux mint (based on Ubuntu) , Fedora. openSUSE. Yes, wrong configuration of any OS will make it vulnerable to attack.

  16. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    What do you base this on? There have been three exploits of Firefox presented at this PWN2OWN - why do you think Firefox would be more secure under Linux than under Windows?
  17. Truffy macrumors 6502a


    May 9, 2005
    somewhere outside your window...
    Strictly speaking, they only said that OS X was relatively secure, in the OP at least they didn't make any mention of Safari's security status.
    Oh come on, let's give proper recognition. The team name (Keen) is given in the OP.
  18. Solomani macrumors 68030


    Sep 25, 2012
    This is the best point regarding this news. The fact that Apple sent reps to the conference, they were standing by ready to learn of any uncovered security flaws on Apple's own browser. Hopefully it leads to Apple to plugging those holes in a timely manner.

  19. steve333 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2008
    I'm getting tired of Safari and it's problems with certain websites and incompatibility.
    Why doesn't Apple switch to a more compatible platform already?
  20. macproredux macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2014
    Because user-land is separate from core, programs are in /usr/bin and important stuff in /etc. because you breach user-land you don't breach the core of the system. This is thing that is not true about OS X there are ways to block user-land too but..

    Linux's fragmentation will make it inherently more secure.
  21. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    What difference does the filesystem layout make in this case? If you are able to get control of a browser, you gain permissions of the user which has launched the browser. This is often enough to wreck havoc on the system, like reading/deleting user files etc. Starting with Vista, the permission system of Windows works quite similar to those of OS X or, say, Ubuntu.

    BTW, the filesystem organisation is one reason why I tend to stay away from Linux. Its really difficult to manage software it it puts itself all over the file tree. OS X with its bundle system is the best solution I have seen so far.
  22. macproredux macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2014
    It doesn't put everything all over the file tree it puts data on two places just like OS X and none of it is in root like OS X. If you exploit a user you exploited that user not the system, systems like Ubuntu don't even create a root user that could exploit the whole system.
  23. leman macrumors 604

    Oct 14, 2008
    OS X applications are usually a bundle, which is one single folder. Under Unix, the application files are usually scattered somewhere within \usr\local or wherever. I have no idea what you mean by 'in root', it doesn't make any sense to me. And - every Linux has a root user. Under Ubuntu, just like under OS X or Windows, the user with admin rights can temporally get root privileges by using user elevation.
  24. Sterkur macrumors newbie

    Apr 25, 2011
    Looks like China's Keen team found NSA's back door :D
  25. msandersen macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2003
    Sydney, Australia

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