iOS and OS X Security Flaws Enable Malicious Apps to Steal Passwords and Other Data

MacRumors

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Apr 12, 2001
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A team of six researchers from Indiana University, Georgia Tech and Peking University have published an in-depth report exposing a series of security vulnerabilities that enable sandboxed malicious apps, approved on the App Store, to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data stored in other apps, including iCloud passwords and authentication tokens, Google Chrome saved web passwords and more.


The thirteen-page research paper "Unauthorized Cross-App Resource Access on Mac OS X and iOS" details that inter-app interaction services, ranging from the Keychain and WebSocket on OS X to the URL Scheme on OS X and iOS, can be exploited to steal confidential information and passwords, including those stored in popular password vaults such as 1Password by AgileBits.
"We completely cracked the keychain service - used to store passwords and other credentials for different Apple apps - and sandbox containers on OS X, and also identified new weaknesses within the inter-app communication mechanisms on OS X and iOS which can be used to steal confidential data from Evernote, Facebook and other high-profile apps."
The different cross-app and communication mechanism vulnerabilities discovered on iOS and OS X, identified as XARA weaknesses, include Keychain password stealing, IPC interception, scheme hijacking and container cracking. The affected apps and services include iCloud, Gmail, Google Drive, Facebook, Twitter, Chrome, 1Password, Evernote, Pushbullet, Dropbox, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Dashlane, AnyDo, Pocket and several others.


Lead researcher Luyi Xing told The Register that he reported the security flaws to Apple in October 2014 and complied with the iPhone maker's request to withhold publishing the information for six months, but has not heard back from the company since and is now exposing the zero-day vulnerabilities to the public. The flaws affect thousands of OS X apps and hundreds of iOS apps and can now be weaponized by attackers.

Article Link: iOS and OS X Security Flaws Enable Malicious Apps to Steal Passwords and Other Data
 

himanshumodi

macrumors 6502
May 18, 2012
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India
Umm... "... and can now be weaponized by attackers"?? Because the he has made the knowledge of the existence of flaws public? I hope the exact nature of the flaws has been made known to Apple and hope Apple has an official response to this.
 
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horsebattery

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2013
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Any indication that the flaws are still there or has Apple already silently addressed the issue?
Once again, MR leaves out pertinent information. From the Register's article:
The Source Article said:
They say the holes are still present in the Apple platforms meaning their work will likely be consumed by attackers looking to weaponise the work.
They also claim that a temporary fix has been pushed into Chrome, but 1Password is still affected:
The Source Article said:
Google's Chromium security team was more responsive and removed Keychain integration for Chrome noting that it could likely not be solved at the application level.

AgileBits, owner of popular software 1Password, said it could not find a way to ward off the attacks or make the malware "work harder" some four months after disclosure.
 
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kwokaaron

macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2013
530
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I don't get why this security flaws reported to Apple always seems to get the cold shoulder. Fix when El Capitan is released?
 

Phil A.

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Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
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I'm a long-time Apple user - and I've near had enough. I have no longer have faith in Apple to protect my data. Tim Cook can ramble on about privacy all he wants, but we all know that software has never been Apple's strength. It may look pretty, but vulnerabilities like these are becoming all too common. Android has had its fair share of problems too, but I just trust the engineers at Google to not let stuff like this happen. The last major flaw I recall from Android was that random number generator that wasn't implemented correctly and allowed some bitcoin wallets to be hijacked. That was hardly as widespread as this flaw. It's so frustrating.
Apple should have fixed this issue, but I don't see the point in hyperbole: All systems have vulnerabilities and Google / Samsung / Sony / HTC / Apple are all as bad as each other. There's an article on the same website (the register) today about a flaw in the latest Samsung phones that will allow the installation of malware simply by connecting to a compromised WiFi service so it's not been a good day all round for software!
 

Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,386
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The soggy side of the Pacific NW
I'm a long-time Apple user - and I've near had enough. I have no longer have faith in Apple to protect my data ... Android has had its fair share of problems too, but I just trust the engineers at Google to not let stuff like this happen.
You apparently didn't read this paper because it also mentions similar, significant issues on Android.

Security is hard.
 
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LordBeelzebub

macrumors regular
Aug 22, 2013
181
237
There is no such thing as security from this sort of thing. For every programmer that writes a security program that is supposed to keep our information secure, there is a hacker out there that can decode/hack the program to steal what ever they want.

Apple could come out with a patch today to fix the current problem, but tomorrow someone else finds a way to hack it.

There is no such thing as security.
 

neuropsychguy

macrumors 65816
Sep 29, 2008
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Once again, MR leaves out pertinent information. From the Register's article:

They also claim that a temporary fix has been pushed into Chrome, but 1Password is still affected:
Thanks for pulling that out of the article. I read the Register article after commenting and saw that statement in there; I was mainly asking in the hope that MacRumors staff would update their article to state that it was still affecting apps and devices. Sure, it's good to click through to the Register article but I read MacRumors in part so I don't always have to click through to other sources to get the pertinent information. As you noted, stating that this still is affecting devices and apps is pertinent information.
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
20,666
22,389
I'm a long-time Apple user - and I've near had enough. I have no longer have faith in Apple to protect my data. Tim Cook can ramble on about privacy all he wants, but we all know that software has never been Apple's strength. It may look pretty, but vulnerabilities like these are becoming all too common. Android has had its fair share of problems too, but I just trust the engineers at Google to not let stuff like this happen. The last major flaw I recall from Android was that random number generator that wasn't implemented correctly and allowed some bitcoin wallets to be hijacked. That was hardly as widespread as this flaw. It's so frustrating.
Check this out: http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/06/new-exploit-turns-samsung-galaxy-phones-into-remote-bugging-devices/