Marc Gurman at 9to5Mac has discovered a vulnerability on the iPad that allows for a limited bypass of the device’s lockscreen. Anyone with an iPad Smart Cover (or fridge magnet) can gain access to the previously-open app (or the home screen if no app was open).
By holding the power button to bring up the ‘Power Off’ screen, closing the smart cover, re-opening it (or just sliding a fridge magnet along the right-hand side of the device), and clicking cancel, the attacker will be dropped into the screen that was open before the iPad was locked. If the attacker gets dropped into the home screen, then they’ll be able to see the installed apps, but won’t be able to open anything. If Safari or Mail (or any other app) was the open when the device was locked, then the attacker would have access to that app.
Unlike Siri being available from the lock screen, which is not a security flaw (an unintended behaviour), this one actually is; and although an attacker does not get full control of the iPad, the severity depends on whether a sensitive app was being used before the device was locked.
Luckily it is possible to protect yourself against this bug in the interim by disabling Smart Covers in Settings > General > iPad Cover Lock/Unlock > Off. Expect Apple to patch this in iOS 5.0.1. Check out 9to5′s video below for a demonstration:
[Update] Apple did indeed patch this bug in iOS 5.0.1. Those of you who disabled your Smart Covers for security purposes can now re-enable them!
I wasn’t going to post about last week’s fairly significant iTunes update, but then Apple went and patched a whole bunch of vulnerabilities across the board. Some of these are fairly significant so I thought I would provide a short breakdown of the changes. Either way, you should definitely be patching all of your Apple devices and software tonight.
Hit the jump for a summary of the key vulnerabilities patched in Apple’s security updates.
The two latest iOS updates are fairly significant in that they patch two critical vulnerabilities. iOS update 4.3.4 patched a number of bugs including comex’s PDF/FreeType vulnerability used to create the latest JailbreakMe exploit. If you’re a jailbreaker, it’s essential that you run comex’s ‘PDF Patcher 2′ within Cydia, in order to patch the underlying vulnerability. iOS update 4.3.5 released a couple days ago, patches a fairly significant bug in the way iOS validates SSL/TLS certificates. This vulnerability can allow an attacker to intercept and/or modify data protected within an SSL session without the user knowing it. This was possible to due the fact that iOS didn’t validate the basicContstrains parameter of SSL certificates in the chain.
If you’re only an occasional patcher – now is the time.
With the release of Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, Apple is changing the way we’ll be doing system upgrades. Lion will only be available to Snow Leopard users electronically through the Mac App Store, and thus it will no longer be possible to purchase a physical install DVD. Before I go into the intended topic of this post, allow me to <rant> about how I’m not too keen on this decision. As a result, it’s no longer possible to install OSX on Macs that don’t have an internet connection (yes, these do exist!). Even for those who do, many don’t have very fast internet connections, or may have extremely low usage caps. I know that UK internet providers still offer entry-level packages 5Mbit lines and stupidly low 1-5 GB monthly limits. Lion is likely to be about 4GBs in size. Oh, you want to install OSX on more than one Mac? Suuure, just download the 4GB install package on each Mac.</rant> You get the point…
The real thing I wanted to talk about is Apple’s solution to system re-installation or recovery, and specifically the security implications thereof. Installing Lion will cause it to create a small ‘recovery’ partition on your primary drive, which is essentially a partition equivalent of an install DVD. If you have a problem with your main OSX partition, and need to run repair utilities or reinstall, you just boot from the recovery partition. Sounds really useful actually, as you don’t need to worry about having a DVD handy. But where this solution brings ease-of-use and convenience, it also brings some security risks.
Although Mac OS X is still largely unaffected by malware, the winds of change are indeed upon us, and it’s unrealistic to assume the Mac will remain virus-free forever. As viruses get more complex they find ever-improving ways of making themselves persistent on a system. There are countless examples of Master Boot Record viruses on Windows where the only sure-fire solution is to completely wipe the hard drive and reinstall from CD/DVD. Because once your system is infected, good security practice forces you to assume that any file or executable is compromised. So, how does this affect a bootable recovery partition? If I were a virus writer, I’d make pretty darn sure that I infect a core installer file on the recovery partition so that any installation will have my virus. The nice thing about DVDs is that even if you insert them into an infected computer, they can’t be changed, and so you have complete confidence (barring a very advanced/rare firmware virus) that wiping and reinstalling from DVD yields a fresh and clean install of your system. As a security professional, I don’t think I’ll be able to trust a recovery partition like that.
But wait, there’s more. Even if your computer is completely secure from remote attacks, the same goes for someone with physical access to your Mac. Now, as a disclaimer, I have to point out that anytime an attacker gets physical access to any computer it’s game over. Even if you use FileVault, I may not be able to log in to your computer (unless some kind of cold boot attack is still possible), but I can easily boot your computer from a USB stick (or remove your hard drive if you have a Firmware password), trojan your recovery partition and corrupt your primary boot partition (similar to an Evil Maid attack). What are you going to do? Reinstall Mac OS X from my trojaned recovery partition of course! It’s not like you have a choice.
Any system compromise can lead to the installation of a persistent backdoor for the lifetime of the recovery partition on that hard drive. I don’t want to sound overly critical; I am probably one of the most fervent Apple supporters you’ll ever meet (with good reasons too), but not to the extent it stops me from thinking about potential impacts. I appreciate that Apple is trying to make things easier for Joe User. Being able to download updates electronically is awesome, and I honestly believe many would take advantage of that (myself included), but users should be given the choice. Particularly in situations like this where not having a physical install medium can have an impact on both usability and security.
My guess (or maybe hope) is that if Apple is not going to sell install DVDs itself, we may be allowed to burn our own install DVDs after downloading Lion from the Mac App Store. Either way, it is fairly trivial to burn the Lion installer onto a DVD – but users shouldn’t have to (or sometimes can’t) resort to a hack like that. Take heed, Apple.
[Update 21/07/11] Ok, so Apple isn’t going to allow users to burn their own DVDs, but they have confirmed that Lion will be available on a mini USB drive in August (for $69).
Apple has released Security Update 2011-003 for Mac OS X 10.6 which updates the system’s built in ‘File Quarantine’ (aka. XProtect) mechanism to detect and remove OSX.MacDefender.A. More significantly, however, Apple has now enabled the ability for File Quarantine to receive daily updates to to its malware definition list, essentially giving Mac OS X a very simplistic built-in anti-virus. Now it’s just up to Apple to actually update the malware definitions list on a regular basis.
In System Preferences > Security > General, users can choose whether or not they want to “Automatically update safe downloads list”. I’m not sure “safe downloads list” is the best name for it however, as it doesn’t really help users understand what its purpose is. I highly recommend keeping this option checked. Note that the screenshot below is not a recommendation of what your preferences should look like, it’s merely highlighting the new option. For more into about configuring your Security settings check out Securing Leopard: Security, FileVault and Firewall (to be updated with this new setting shortly).
[Updated 01/06/2011] As I wholly expected, a new variant of MACDefender is already out in the wild that does not get detected by OSX’s File Quarantine. As File Quarantine is simply a blacklist of known malware, it does not have the ability to pick up on malware it doesn’t recognise. This will be a good test to see how quickly Apple responds and updates the File Quarantine definitions. If you installed the 2011-003 security update then your system is already set to check for new updates every 24 hours. Browse safe out there.
[Updated 02/06/2011] Apple has already updated the File Quarantine definitions for the latest MACDefender variant (OSX.MacDefender.C). Pretty good response time by Apple!
A fairly significant 0day vulnerability is being reported in the Skype client (< 126.96.36.1992) for Mac OS X. By sending a specially-crafted instant message, an attacker may be able to remotely execute code on the recipient’s computer and gain access to a root shell. This issue has been discovered (by accident it seems) by Gordon Maddern of Australian security consultancy Pure Hacking.
“About a month ago I was chatting on skype to a collegue about a payload for one of our clients. Completely by accident, my payload executed in my collegues skype client. I decided to investigate a little further and found that the Windows and Linux clients were not vulnerable. It was only the Mac skype client that seemed to be affected. [...] Low and behold (sic) I was able to remotely gain a shell.”
It is believed that due to the relative simplicity in the delivery of the payload, it may be possible for this attack to be automated in the form of a worm. Skype are aware of this issue,
but have yet to release a patch (see below). Mac users should be extra careful until a patch is made available, and in the short term I recommend quitting Skype when not using it, or at least checking that your Skype client is set to only allow messages from your contacts (Skype > Preferences > Privacy Tab > Allow Messages From: Contacts).
No further details or proof-of-concept of the vulnerability are available as of yet, although I’d be interested to see it… time to start pasting random Metasploit payloads into Skype! ;)
Full disclosure of the vulnerability is now available here. In short, the issue was a persistent XSS that could be used to redirect the user to a malicious website. Here’s the PoC attack string:
Apple has released several security updates which patch vulnerabilities in the way Mac OS X and iOS handle certificate trust. This comes off the back of the recent Comodo hack in which several fraudulent – yet valid – SSL certificates were created for a number of prominent websites, rendering users vulnerable to potential man-in-the-middle attacks. These updates (2011-002 and iOS 4.3.2/4.2.7) improve the way certificate verification is performed in OSX and iOS. The Safari 5.0.5 update patches two critical bugs which could result in remote code execution.
In other news: Updates to Safari in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” have shown that the browser will bring support for the new Do-Not-Track functionality, intended to give users the ability to opt-out from tracking by Third Party tracking and ad companies. Whether or not this functionality will be fully respected by third parties remains to be seen. Lastly, a tethered jailbreak for iOS 4.3.2 has already been released.