November 27, 2014

Apple fixes 44 security bugs in iOS

Apple-logo(LiveHacking.Com) – Apple has released a new point release of iOS 7 to address 44 different security issues with Apple’s mobile operating system. Among the patches are bug fixes for vulnerabilities in the iOS kernel, and fixes for errors in “launchd,” which could allow a malicious application to execute arbitrary code with system privileges. There are also lots of fixes for WebKit, the HTML rendering engine used by Safari.

The kernel vulnerability, which could cause an iOS device to unexpectedly restart, exists because of a null pointer de-reference in the handling of IOKit API arguments. This problem was addressed through additional validation of IOKit API arguments.

launchd has been patched quite extensively in this release. The program is responsible for starting, stopping and managing back ground processes and apps on iOS. According to Apple’s security notice for iOS 7.1.2, launchd has several different vulnerabilities including a heap buffer overflow in the handling of IPC messages, a heap buffer overflow in the handling of log messages, and some unspecified integer overflow/underflow issues. All of these could possibly allow a malicious application to execute arbitrary code with system privileges.

The WebKit HTML rendering engine was also heavily patched with 28 unique bugs being squashed. Many of the bugs were discovered either by Google’s Chrome Security Team or by renowned security researchers like “miaubiz” who were participating in Google’s Vulnerability Rewards Program for Chromium. However Apple did find several bugs on its own. In total, the discovery of 12 of the 28 vulnerabilities is attributed (or co-attributed) to Apple. The result of the “multiple memory corruption issues” in WebKit was that a user visiting a maliciously crafted website could lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.

Two other WebKit vulnerabilities were also found by Erling Ellingsen of Facebook. The first was an encoding issue that existed in the handling of unicode characters in URLs. The result was that a malicious site could send messages to a connected frame or window in a way that might circumvent the receiver’s origin check. The other problem was a spoofing issue that existed in the handling of URLs.

Another interesting issue fixed in this version of iOS was a problem with Siri and lock codes. If a Siri request referred to one of several possible contacts, Siri displayed a list of choices and the option ‘More…’ for a complete contact list. When used at the lock screen, Siri did not require the passcode before viewing the complete contact list.

iOS 7.1.2 is available now for the iPhone 4 and later, the iPod touch (5th generation) and later, and the iPad 2 and later.