Tuesday, 14 September 2021 11:20

Apple patches 15th zero-day this year, both iOS and macOS targeted Featured

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Apple patches 15th zero-day this year, both iOS and macOS targeted Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Apple has released patches for two zero-day flaws in its iOS and macOS operating systems, warning that these are being actively exploited.

These were the 15th zero-days targeting macOS and iOS, according to the technology news site SecurityWeek.

The site, which tracks zero-day attacks, said there had been 64 attacks this year. Twenty have targeted Microsoft products.

The flaws were in the CoreGraphics and WebKit components of the two operating systems.

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One was credited to the Citizen Lab research group, and includes an iOS zero-click exploit for iMessage that was used to target activists in Bahrain. Together with another similar exploit, these were given the name FORCEDENTRY by Citizen Lab.

The company provided no detail about the issues, merely saying about the iOS flaws:

"CoreGraphics

"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 generation)

"Impact: Processing a maliciously crafted PDF may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.

"Description: An integer overflow was addressed with improved input validation.

"CVE-2021-30860: The Citizen Lab;

"WebKit

"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 generation)

"Impact: Processing maliciously crafted Web content may lead to arbitrary code execution. Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.

"Description: A use after free issue was addressed with improved memory management.

"CVE-2021-30858: an anonymous researcher."

While the advisory did not say so, both flaws are also found in the macOS Big Sur 11.6 and macOS Catalina versions of the operating system.

In a statement, Ivan Krstić, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, said: "After identifying the vulnerability used by this exploit for iMessage, Apple rapidly developed and deployed a fix in iOS 14.8 to protect our users

"Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals.

"While that means they are not a threat to the overwhelming majority of our users, we continue to work tirelessly to defend all our customers, and we are constantly adding new protections for their devices and data."

Contacted for comment, Satnam Narang, a staff research engineer at security firm Tenable, said attackers could exploit CVE-2021-30860, an integer overflow vulnerability in CoreGraphics, by sending a specially crafted PDF file to a target via iMessage.

He added that FORCEDENTRY had been used in targeted attacks against activists since at least February 2021.

The second vulnerability, CVE-2021-30858, was a use-after-free vulnerability in Apple's WebKit framework that is used for displaying web content, Narang said.

"An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by accessing a website or Web content containing malicious code. The flaw was reported anonymously, and no specific details about the in-the-wild exploitation of this vulnerability were shared," he added.

"Because FORCEDENTRY was used by threat actors in targeted attacks, the risk to the average user is less. However, it is still good practice for Apple users to apply available patches in a timely manner because of the impact from unpatched flaws."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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