Researcher plants rogue app in Apple's App Store
Charlie Miller demos bug that lets approved iPhone, iPad apps download more code, including malware
Computerworld - Apple's App Store can be stocked with malware-infected apps by exploiting a bug in iOS, a noted security researcher said Monday.
Charlie Miller, a principal research consultant for Denver-based security consultant Accuvant -- and the only four-time winner at the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest -- used an unknown flaw in Apple's mobile operating system to create an app that "phoned home" to his own server.
Miller built a fake stock ticker app, dubbed "Instastock," as a proof-of-concept, then submitted it to Apple, who approved and placed it in the App Store in September.
Instastock exploited the bug Miller discovered to ping a server at his home and request to download another file. While Miller did not stock his server with such a file -- except briefly for demonstration and testing purposes -- it proved the app could secretly download rogue code. Such "malware" could conceivably issue commands to an iPhone or iPad, stealing contacts and photos, turning on the device's camera or microphone, or sending text messages.
"The bug I found lets programs signed by Apple download more code," said Miller in an interview Monday.
Until now, it was assumed that Apple's code signing protected users from dangerous apps being distributed through the App Store
Essentially, Miller tricked iOS into thinking that his app was Safari, and thus exempt from the code-signing restriction.
"They left out one little thing," said Miller of the end-around he discovered. "A cleverly-written app can pretend it's mobile Safari."
All versions of iOS since 4.3, including the new iOS 5, contain the bug, said Miller.
Miller's find puts iOS -- at least until Apple patches the bug -- in the same boat as Google's Android, which has been plagued by malware-infected apps this year, including some snuck into the official Android Market.
Last year, Jon Oberheide, co-founder and CTO of Duo Security, a developer of two-factor authentication software, built a bogus app that could control Android devices, then added it to Google's download center. Since then, Oberheide has discovered other vulnerabilities that let him force Android phones to download and install malicious software.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Gartner Report: A Guide to Gartner's Enterprise Mobile Security Self-Assessment Gartner introduces a model and a Toolkit intended to help mobility and security IT leaders assess their enterprise mobility programs from a security...
- Gartner Report: Containing Mobile Security Risks With the 80/20 Rule IT planners can deliver better mobile protection with higher user satisfaction by segmenting users into risk groups before committing to specific management or...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts