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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Apple

MIT Researchers Discover New Flaw in Apple M1 CPUs That Can't Be Patched

MIT Researchers Discover New Flaw in Apple M1 CPUs That Can't Be Patched
June 11, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A novel hardware attack dubbed  PACMAN  has been demonstrated against Apple's M1 processor chipsets, potentially arming a malicious actor with the capability to gain arbitrary code execution on macOS systems. It leverages "speculative execution attacks to bypass an important memory protection mechanism, ARM Pointer Authentication, a security feature that is used to enforce pointer integrity," MIT researchers Joseph Ravichandran, Weon Taek Na, Jay Lang, and Mengjia Yan  said  in a new paper. What's more concerning is that "while the hardware mechanisms used by PACMAN cannot be patched with software features, memory corruption bugs can be," the researchers added. The vulnerability is rooted in pointer authentication codes ( PACs ), a line of defense introduced in arm64e architecture that aims to detect and secure against unexpected changes to  pointers  — objects that reference an address location in memory. PACs aim to solve a common problem in software

Apple's New Feature Will Install Security Updates Automatically Without Full OS Update

Apple's New Feature Will Install Security Updates Automatically Without Full OS Update
June 06, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple has introduced a Rapid Security Response feature in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura that's designed to deploy security fixes without the need for a full operating system version update. "macOS security gets even stronger with new tools that make the Mac more resistant to attack, including Rapid Security Response that works in between normal updates to easily keep security up to date without a reboot," the company  said  in a statement on Monday. The feature, which also works on iOS , aims to separate regular software updates from critical security improvements and are applied automatically so that users are quickly protected against in-the-wild attacks and unexpected threats. It's worth noting that Apple tested an analogous option in iOS 14.5. Rapid Security Response, viewed in that light, mirrors a similar approach taken by Google through Play Services and Play Protect to secure Android devices from malware and other kinds of fraud. Another key security fea

UpdateAgent Returns with New macOS Malware Dropper Written in Swift

UpdateAgent Returns with New macOS Malware Dropper Written in Swift
May 17, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A new variant of the macOS malware tracked as UpdateAgent has been spotted in the wild, indicating ongoing attempts on the part of its authors to upgrade its functionalities. "Perhaps one of the most identifiable features of the malware is that it relies on the AWS infrastructure to host its various payloads and perform its infection status updates to the server," researchers from Jamf Threat Labs  said  in a report. UpdateAgent, first detected in late 2020, has since  evolved  into a malware dropper, facilitating the distribution of second-stage payloads such as adware while also bypassing macOS  Gatekeeper  protections. The newly discovered Swift-based dropper masquerades as Mach-O binaries named " PDFCreator " and " ActiveDirectory " that, upon execution, establish a connection to a remote server and retrieve a bash script to be executed. "The primary difference [between the two executables] is that it reaches out to a different URL from wh

Experts Uncover Spyware Attacks Against Catalan Politicians and Activists

Experts Uncover Spyware Attacks Against Catalan Politicians and Activists
April 19, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously unknown zero-click exploit in Apple's iMessage was used to install mercenary spyware from  NSO Group  and  Candiru  against at least 65 individuals as part of a "multi-year clandestine operation." "Victims included Members of the European Parliament, Catalan Presidents, legislators, jurists, and members of civil society organizations," the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab  said  in a new report. "Family members were also infected in some cases." Of the 65 individuals, 63 were targeted with Pegasus and four others were infected with Candiru, with iPhones belonging to at least two compromised with both. The incidents are said to have mostly occurred between 2017 and 2020. The attacks involved the weaponization of an iOS exploit dubbed HOMAGE that made it possible to penetrate the devices running versions prior to iOS 13.2, which was released on October 28, 2019. It's worth noting that the latest version of iOS is iOS 15.4.1.

New Variant of Chinese Gimmick Malware Targeting macOS Users

New Variant of Chinese Gimmick Malware Targeting macOS Users
March 23, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Researchers have disclosed details of a newly discovered macOS variant of a malware implant developed by a Chinese espionage threat actor known to strike attack organizations across Asia. Attributing the attacks to a group tracked as  Storm Cloud , cybersecurity firm Volexity characterized the new malware, dubbed Gimmick, as a "feature-rich, multi-platform malware family that uses public cloud hosting services (such as Google Drive) for command-and-control (C2) channels." The cybersecurity firm said it recovered the sample through memory analysis of a compromised MacBook Pro running macOS 11.6 (Big Sur) as part of an intrusion campaign that took place in late 2021. "Storm Cloud is an advanced and versatile threat actor, adapting its tool set to match different operating systems used by its targets," Volexity researchers Damien Cash, Steven Adair, and Thomas Lancaster  said  in a report. "They make use of built-in operating system utilities, open-source to

Experts Create Apple AirTag Clone That Can Bypass Anti-Tracking Measures

Experts Create Apple AirTag Clone That Can Bypass Anti-Tracking Measures
February 28, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have managed to build a clone of Apple Airtag that circumvents the anti-stalking protection technology built into its Find My Bluetooth-based tracking protocol. The result is a stealth AirTag that can successfully track an iPhone user for over five days without triggering a tracking notification, Positive Security's co-founder Fabian Bräunlein  said  in a deep-dive published last week. Find My is Apple's asset tracking app that allows users to track the GPS location of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS devices, AirPods, AirTags as well as other supported third-party accessories through a connected iCloud account. It also enables users to view the location of others who have opted to share their location. This is far from the first time weaknesses have been uncovered in Apple's Find My system. In March 2021, the Secure Mobile Networking Lab at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany (SEEMO)  disclosed  design and implementation flaws in the pr

Apple Releases iOS, iPadOS, macOS Updates to Patch Actively Exploited Zero-Day Flaw

Apple Releases iOS, iPadOS, macOS Updates to Patch Actively Exploited Zero-Day Flaw
February 10, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Thursday released security updates for  iOS, iPadOS ,  macOS , and  Safari  to address a new WebKit flaw that it said may have been actively exploited in the wild, making it the company's third zero-day patch since the start of the year. Tracked as CVE-2022-22620, the issue concerns a use-after-free vulnerability in the WebKit component that powers the Safari web browser and could be exploited by a piece of specially crafted web content to gain arbitrary code execution.  "Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited," the company said in a terse statement acknowledging in-the-wild attacks leveraging the flaw. The iPhone maker credited an anonymous researcher for discovering and reporting the flaw, adding it remediated the issue with improved memory management. The updates are available for iPhone 6s and later, iPad Pro (all models), iPad Air 2 and later, iPad 5th generation and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th

Apple Pays $100,500 Bounty to Hacker Who Found Way to Hack MacBook Webcam

Apple Pays $100,500 Bounty to Hacker Who Found Way to Hack MacBook Webcam
January 30, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple last year fixed a new set of macOS vulnerabilities that exposed Safari browser to attack, potentially allowing malicious actors to access users' online accounts, microphone, and webcam. Security researcher Ryan Pickren, who discovered and reported the bugs to the iPhone maker, was compensated with a $100,500 bug bounty, underscoring the severity of the issues. By exploiting a chain of security issues with iCloud Sharing and Safari 15, it enables the attacker to hijack the multimedia permission and gain "full access to every website ever visited by the victim" in Safari, including Gmail, iCloud, Facebook, and PayPal accounts. The  issues  specifically concern ShareBear, an iCloud file-sharing mechanism that prompts users upon attempting to open a shared document for the first time. Taking advantage of the fact that users are never displayed the prompt again once they accept to open the file, Pickren found that it's possible to alter the file's content to

Apple Releases iOS and macOS Updates to Patch Actively Exploited 0-Day Vulnerability

Apple Releases iOS and macOS Updates to Patch Actively Exploited 0-Day Vulnerability
January 26, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Wednesday  released  iOS 15.3 and macOS Monterey 12.2 with a fix for the privacy-defeating bug in Safari, as well as to contain a zero-day flaw, which it said has been exploited in the wild to break into its devices. Tracked as  CVE-2022-22587 , the vulnerability relates to a memory corruption issue in the IOMobileFrameBuffer component that could be abused by a malicious application to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. The iPhone maker said it's "aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited," adding it addressed the issue with improved input validation. It did not reveal the nature of the attacks, how widespread they are, or the identities of the threat actors exploiting them. An anonymous researcher along with Meysam Firouzi and Siddharth Aeri have been credited with discovering and reporting the flaw. CVE-2022-22587 is the third zero-day vulnerability discovered in IOMobileFrameBuffer in a span of six months after  CVE-2

Apple Releases iPhone and iPad Updates to Patch HomeKit DoS Vulnerability

Apple Releases iPhone and iPad Updates to Patch HomeKit DoS Vulnerability
January 12, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Wednesday rolled out software updates for iOS and iPadOS to remediate a persistent  denial-of-service (DoS) issue  affecting the HomeKit smart home framework that could be potentially exploited to launch ransomware-like attacks targeting the devices. The iPhone maker, in its  release notes  for iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, termed it as a "resource exhaustion issue" that could be triggered when processing a maliciously crafted HomeKit accessory name, adding it addressed the bug with improved validation. The so-called "doorLock" vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2022-22588, affects HomeKit, the software API for connecting smart home devices to iOS applications. Should it be successfully exploited, iPhones and iPads can be sent into a crash spiral simply by changing the name of a HomeKit device to a string larger than 500,000 characters and tricking the target into accepting a malicious Home invitation. Even worse, since HomeKit device names are backed up to iClou

Italy's Antitrust Regulator Fines Google and Apple for "Aggressive" Data Practices

Italy's Antitrust Regulator Fines Google and Apple for "Aggressive" Data Practices
November 26, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Italy's antitrust regulator has fined both Apple and Google €10 million each for what it calls are "aggressive" data practices and for not providing consumers with clear information on commercial uses of their personal data during the account creation phase. The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM)  said  "Google and Apple did not provide clear and immediate information on the acquisition and use of user data for commercial purposes," adding the tech companies chose to emphasize the data collection as only necessary to improve their own services and personalize user experience without offering any indication that the data could be transferred and used for other reasons. The concerns have to do with how the companies omit relevant information when creating an account and using their services, details which the authority said are critical to making an informed decision as to whether or not to give permission for utilizing their data for comme

Apple Sues Israel's NSO Group for Spying on iPhone Users With Pegasus Spyware

Apple Sues Israel's NSO Group for Spying on iPhone Users With Pegasus Spyware
November 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple has sued NSO Group and its parent company Q Cyber Technologies in a U.S. federal court holding it accountable for illegally targeting users with its Pegasus surveillance tool, marking yet another setback for the Israeli spyware vendor. The Cupertino-based tech giant painted NSO Group as "notorious hackers — amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse." In addition, the lawsuit seeks to permanently prevent the infamous hacker-for-hire company from breaking into any Apple software, services or devices. The iPhone maker, separately, also revealed its plans to  notify targets  of state-sponsored spyware attacks and has committed $10 million, as well as any monetary damages won as part of the lawsuit, to cybersurveillance research groups and advocates. To that end, the company intends to display a "Threat Notification" after the targeted users sign into appleid.apple[

New 'Shrootless' Bug Could Let Attackers Install Rootkit on macOS Systems

New 'Shrootless' Bug Could Let Attackers Install Rootkit on macOS Systems
October 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Microsoft on Thursday disclosed details of a new vulnerability that could allow an attacker to bypass security restrictions in macOS and take complete control of the device to perform arbitrary operations on the device without getting flagged by traditional security solutions. Dubbed " Shrootless " and tracked as  CVE-2021-30892 , the "vulnerability lies in how Apple-signed packages with post-install scripts are installed," Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team's Jonathan Bar Or  said  in a technical write-up. "A malicious actor could create a specially crafted file that would hijack the installation process." System Integrity Protection ( SIP ) aka "rootless" is a  security feature  introduced in OS X El Capitan that's designed to protect the macOS operating system by restricting a  root user  from executing unauthorized code or performing operations that may compromise system integrity. Specifically, SIP allows modification of prote

Windows 10, Linux, iOS, Chrome and Many Others at Hacked Tianfu Cup 2021

Windows 10, Linux, iOS, Chrome and Many Others at Hacked Tianfu Cup 2021
October 17, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Windows 10, iOS 15, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Ubuntu 20 were successfully broken into using original, never-before-seen exploits at the Tianfu Cup 2021, the fourth edition of the international cybersecurity contest held in the city of Chengdu, China. Targets this year  included  Google Chrome running on Windows 10 21H1, Apple Safari running on Macbook Pro, Adobe PDF Reader, Docker CE, Ubuntu 20/CentOS 8, Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, Windows 10, VMware Workstation, VMware ESXi, Parallels Desktop, iPhone 13 Pro running iOS 15, domestic mobile phones running Android, QEMU VM, Synology DS220j DiskStation, and ASUS RT-AX56U router. The Chinese version of Pwn2Own was  started  in 2018 in the wake of government regulation in the country that barred security researchers from participating in international hacking competitions because of national security concerns. With the exception of Synology DS220j NAS, Xiaomi Mi 11 smartphone, and an unnamed Chine

Apple Releases Urgent iPhone and iPad Updates to Patch New Zero-Day Vulnerability

Apple Releases Urgent iPhone and iPad Updates to Patch New Zero-Day Vulnerability
October 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Monday released a security update for iOS and iPad to address a critical vulnerability that it says is being exploited in the wild, making it the 17th zero-day flaw the company has addressed in its products since the start of the year. The weakness, assigned the identifier  CVE-2021-30883 , concerns a memory corruption issue in the "IOMobileFrameBuffer" component that could allow an application to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. Crediting an anonymous researcher for reporting the vulnerability, Apple said it's "aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited." Technical specifics about the flaw and the nature of the attacks remain unavailable as yet, as is the identity of the threat actor, so as to allow a majority of the users to apply the patch and prevent other adversaries from weaponizing the vulnerability. The iPhone maker said it addressed the issue with improved memory handling. But soon after the advisory w

Apple now requires all apps to make it easy for users to delete their accounts

Apple now requires all apps to make it easy for users to delete their accounts
October 07, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
All third-party iOS, iPadOS, and macOS apps that allow users to create an account should also provide a method for terminating their accounts from within the apps beginning next year, Apple said on Wednesday. "This requirement applies to all app submissions starting January 31, 2022," the iPhone maker  said , urging developers to "review any laws that may require you to maintain certain types of data, and to make sure your app clearly explains what data your app collects, how it collects that data, all uses of that data, your data retention/deletion policies." While the feature could be convenient, it's worth noting that Apple only says the mechanism should have a provision for users to "initiate deletion of their account from within the app," meaning it's possible that apps could redirect users to a website or prompt them to send an email in order actually to purge their information. The reminder follows updates to  App Store Review Guideline

Apple's New iCloud Private Relay Service Leaks Users' Real IP Addresses

Apple's New iCloud Private Relay Service Leaks Users' Real IP Addresses
September 24, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A new as-yet unpatched weakness in Apple's iCloud Private Relay feature could be circumvented to leak users' true IP addresses from iOS devices running the latest version of the operating system. Introduced as a beta with iOS 15, which was officially released this week,  iCloud Private Relay  aims to improve anonymity on the web by employing a dual-hop architecture that effectively shields users' IP address, location, and DNS requests from websites and network service providers. It achieves this by routing users' internet traffic on the Safari browser through two proxies in order to mask who's browsing and where that data is coming from in what could be viewed as a simplified version of Tor.  However, the feature is available only to iCloud+ subscribers running iOS 15 or macOS 12 Monterey and above. "If you read the IP address from an HTTP request received by your server, you'll get the IP address of the egress proxy," FingerprintJS researcher Se

Urgent Apple iOS and macOS Updates Released to Fix Actively Exploited Zero-Days

Urgent Apple iOS and macOS Updates Released to Fix Actively Exploited Zero-Days
September 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple on Thursday released security updates to fix multiple security vulnerabilities in older versions of  iOS  and  macOS  that it says have been detected in exploits in the wild, in addition to expanding patches for a previously plugged security weakness abused by NSO Group's Pegasus surveillance tool to target iPhone users. Chief among them is CVE-2021-30869, a type confusion flaw that resides in the kernel component  XNU  developed by Apple that could cause a malicious application to execute arbitrary code with the highest privileges. The Cupertino-based tech giant said it addressed the bug with improved state handling. Google's Threat Analysis Group, which is credited with reporting the flaw, said it detected the vulnerability being "used in conjunction with a N-day remote code execution targeting WebKit." Two other flaws include  CVE-2021-30858 and CVE-2021-30860 , both of which were resolved by the company earlier this month following disclosure from the

Unpatched High-Severity Vulnerability Affects Apple macOS Computers

Unpatched High-Severity Vulnerability Affects Apple macOS Computers
September 21, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers on Tuesday disclosed details of an unpatched zero-day vulnerability in macOS Finder that could be abused by remote adversaries to trick users into running arbitrary commands on the machines. "A vulnerability in macOS Finder allows files whose extension is inetloc to execute arbitrary commands, these files can be embedded inside emails which if the user clicks on them will execute the commands embedded inside them without providing a prompt or warning to the user," SSD Secure Disclosure  said  in a write-up published today. Park Minchan, an independent security researcher, has been credited with reporting the vulnerability which affects macOS versions of Big Sur and prior. The weakness arises due to the manner macOS processes INETLOC files — shortcuts to open internet locations such as RSS feeds, Telnet connections, or other online resources and local files — resulting in a scenario that allows commands embedded in those files to be executed wit

Apple Issues Urgent Updates to Fix New Zero-Day Linked to Pegasus Spyware

Apple Issues Urgent Updates to Fix New Zero-Day Linked to Pegasus Spyware
September 13, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple has released  iOS 14.8, iPadOS 14.8 ,  watchOS 7.6.2 ,  macOS Big Sur 11.6 , and  Safari 14.1.2  to fix two actively exploited vulnerabilities, one of which defeated extra security protections built into the operating system. The list of two flaws is as follows - CVE-2021-30858  (WebKit) - A use after free issue that could result in arbitrary code execution when processing maliciously crafted web content. The flaw has been addressed with improved memory management. CVE-2021-30860  (CoreGraphics) - An integer overflow vulnerability that could lead to arbitrary code execution when processing a maliciously crafted PDF document. The bug has been remediated with improved input validation. "Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited," the iPhone maker noted in its advisory. The updates arrive weeks after researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab revealed details of a zero-day exploit called " FORCEDENTRY "
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