Risk
5/8/2012
12:19 PM
50%
50%

Apple Fixes Serious iOS Security Bugs

Apple iOS version 5.1.1 patches three big iPhone and iPad vulnerabilities. But OS X Lion update results in FileVault passwords being stored in plaintext.

Apple released iOS version 5.1.1 Monday and urged users to immediately update.

While the update includes several refinements--including better cellular network switching on the new iPad and improved HDR photography reliability--it also patches three serious vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers to potentially execute arbitrary code on a device.

The updated version of iOS will work on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch (3rd generation and later), as well as the iPad, iPad 2, and new iPad.

The first vulnerability patched in iOS 5.1.1 involves Safari. It would allow a malicious website "to spoof the address in the location bar," so users could be surfing a fake site that appeared to be real, according to an overview of the security issues from Apple. The company said it's addressed the issue "through improved URL handling," and that the bug isn't present in Mac OS X versions of Safari.

[ Online anonymity has both pros and cons. Read more at Has Anonymous Ruined Online Anonymity?. ]

The other two vulnerabilities are in the WebKit open source Web browser engine. The first WebKit bug, which was discovered by the Google Chrome Security Team, would allow an attacker to create a malicious website that launches attacks that unexpectedly terminate applications or even execute arbitrary code.

The second WebKit bug, meanwhile, was divulged earlier this year by veteran Chrome bug-hunter Sergey Glazunov during Google's Pwnium contest. Like Safari, the Chrome browser is also based on WebKit.

Anyone with a jailbroken device can also update to iOS 5.1.1, provided their device uses an A4 chip. "That excludes newer devices such as the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, and the iPad which came after the iPad 2," said Paul Ducklin, head of technology for Sophos in the Asia Pacific region, in a blog post. "As with iOS 5.1, it's a tethered jailbreak. That means you need to connect your device to your computer and use the jailbreaking tool when you reboot."

Apple has been furiously updating its operating systems recently, most notably to patch OS X users against the Flashback malware, or any other malicious code that might like to target the underlying Java vulnerability. But not all of the patches have been going smoothly.

For example, the latest OS X Lion security update (10.7.3) has a bug that stores as plaintext the passwords for the optional Apple FileVault system that encrypts Mac user's home folders. The bug appears to affect only users who upgraded from OS X Lion to Snow Leopard and who retained FileVault instead of upgrading to FileVault 2, which encrypts the entire hard disc.

News of the bug, which appears to date from February, first appeared Friday when David Emery, a consultant at DIE Consulting, detailed the flaw to a cryptography email list. "Someone, for some unknown reason, turned on a debug switch (DEBUGLOG) in the current released version of MacOS Lion 10.7.3 that causes the authorization host process's HomeDirMounter DIHLFVMount to log in *PLAIN TEXT* in a system-wide logfile readable by anyone with root or admin access the login password of the user of an encrypted home directory tree ('legacy Filevault'). The log in question is kept by default for several weeks," he wrote.

But these plaintext passwords can persist much longer if they end up being saved to external media as part of automated Apple OS X Time Machine backups. "Vulnerable users who do not encrypt their Time Machine backups risk replicating this log file to their backups, which could mean long-term storage of their unencrypted password," said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos Canada, in a blog post.

All 10.7.3 users should change their FileVault passwords and be sure to not reuse their passwords elsewhere, he said. Furthermore, even after Apple issues a fix, any FileVault users on OS X Lion should assume that their previous password remains compromised, since it may continue to be stored in plaintext form in Time Machine.

At a time when cybercrime has never been more prolific and sophisticated, budgets are being cut. In response, IT is taking a hard look using third-party services--outsourcing--to meet security challenges. Our Making The Security Outsourcing Decision report outlines the various security outsourcing options available. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Dark Reading Live EVENTS
INsecurity - For the Defenders of Enterprise Security
A Dark Reading Conference
While red team conferences focus primarily on new vulnerabilities and security researchers, INsecurity puts security execution, protection, and operations center stage. The primary speakers will be CISOs and leaders in security defense; the blue team will be the focus.
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Tell the sysadmin that we have a situation.
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] Assessing Cybersecurity Risk
[Strategic Security Report] Assessing Cybersecurity Risk
As cyber attackers become more sophisticated and enterprise defenses become more complex, many enterprises are faced with a complicated question: what is the risk of an IT security breach? This report delivers insight on how today's enterprises evaluate the risks they face. This report also offers a look at security professionals' concerns about a wide variety of threats, including cloud security, mobile security, and the Internet of Things.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.