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Attacks/Breaches

7/22/2013
12:00 PM
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Security Researcher Takes Credit For Apple Developer Website Hack

Access to the developer site has been partially restored, but the iOS and Mac Dev Centers remain down

A security researcher has taken credit for a hack of a website for Apple developers last week that exposed user data and led Apple to take portions of the site offline.

The website's iOS and Mac Dev centers remain down as of publication. In the aftermath of the disclosure, a security researcher named Ibrahim Balic took credit for the hack, and claimed he was only attempting to alert Apple to the presence of vulnerabilities on the site.

In a statement to developers on Sunday, Apple warned that its website had been taken down after the hack, and that personal data belonging to users may have been stolen by the culprit.

"Last Thursday, an intruder attempted to secure personal information of our registered developers from our developer website," according to a note posted on the website. "Sensitive personal information was encrypted and cannot be accessed, however, we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed. In the spirit of transparency, we want to inform you of the issue. We took the site down immediately on Thursday and have been working around the clock since then."

At the time of this posting, the home page for the Apple site is up. However, when users click on links, such as the one for the iOS Dev Center, all that appears is the message from Apple.

In a comment posted to a story on TechCrunch, Balic wrote he has found 13 vulnerabilities on the Developer site, and reported them to Apple through bugreport.apple.com.

"I gave details to Apple as much as I can and I've also added screenshots," Balic wrote. "One of those bugs have provided me access to users details etc. I immediately reported this to Apple."

Balic identified himself as a private security consultant.

"I didn't attempt to publish or have not shared this situation with anybody else," he wrote, adding that he reported the bug before accessing any data. "My aim was to report bugs and collect the datas [sic] for the [purpose] of seeing how deep I can go within this scope."

He also created a YouTube video that includes some of the data that was taken.

According to TechCrunch, Apple reported only developer accounts as being affected, and standard iTunes accounts were not compromised. In addition, no credit card data was impacted. The company waited three days to alert developers because it was trying to figure out what had been exposed, according to Apple. No timeline was given for when the site would be back up and fully functional.

"Investigating a breach of this sort requires considerable circumspection, not least because you need to make sure that such evidence as you have available for law enforcement is safe and sound before you say too much," said Paul Ducklin, head of technology, Asia-Pacific, at Sophos, in a blog post. "That might explain Apple's delay in telling it like it is, but I'm still not quite sure how many friends in the developer community Apple will win by invoking 'the spirit of transparency' some two-and-a-half days late."

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Brian Prince is a freelance writer for a number of IT security-focused publications. Prior to becoming a freelance reporter, he worked at eWEEK for five years covering not only security, but also a variety of other subjects in the tech industry. Before that, he worked as a ... View Full Bio

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