Home Security Researcher outlines way to exfiltrate Mac passwords

Researcher outlines way to exfiltrate Mac passwords

Some of the gloss has been taken off Apple's release of its High Sierra update for macOS on Monday, with ex-NSA hacker Patrick Wardle demonstrating a way to steal plaintext passwords that are stored in the Mac keychain.

Wardle, who now works as chief security researcher at a company known as Synack, posted a video of a way to exfiltrate passwords using a vulnerability that he said he had informed Apple about.

Passwords are stored in the Mac's keychain and one requires a master password to access the vault in which they are stored.

Applications that are installed on a Mac are not meant to be able to access the keychain unless the user enters a master password.

But the flaw that Wardle found apparently allows apps to exfiltrate every plaintext password without requiring any master password.

Wardle said in a tweet that he had notified Apple about the vulnerability and also provided the company with a detailed description and proof-of-concept exploit code.

Apple apparently chose not to fix the bug before the release on Monday.

While Wardle demonstrated the vulnerability using an unsigned app, it can also be exploited by signed apps.

This is the second vulnerability that Wardle has found in macOS this month.

At the beginning of September, he published a post outlining how High Sierra's Secure Kernel Extension Loading was broken.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.