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.
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- 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... All Security White Papers | Webcasts