Researcher plants rogue app in Apple's App Store

Charlie Miller demos bug that lets approved iPhone, iPad apps download more code, including malware

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"This vulnerability makes iOS just like Android is by default," said Miller of the Apple flaw and App Store security.

Apple wasn't amused.

Shortly after his interview with Computerworld, Miller received an email from Apple tossing him out of the developer program.

"OMG, Apple just kicked me out of the iOS Developer program," Miller said late Monday on Twitter. "That's so rude!"

Later, Miller added that Apple banned him from its iOS developer program for a full year.

Miller, who said he notified Apple of the bug three weeks, ago, but not that he had planted an app in the App Store, defended his research. "For the record, without a real app in the App Store, people would say Apple wouldn't approve an app that took advantage of this flaw," he said yesterday.

Apple yanked Instastock from the App Store Monday after Miller disclosed his findings.

Ironically, Miller was one of a handful of security researchers who were offered an early look at Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, by Apple earlier this year. At the time, Apple asked those researchers for security-related feedback on the under-construction operating system.

Miller will unveil details of his research at the Syscan security conference in Taipei, Taiwan next week, and repeat the performance at the Miami Beach, Fla.-based Infiltrate conference in mid-January 2012.

Although Apple regularly declines to comment on when it plans to patch a specific vulnerability, Miller expects the company will fix the flaw before the Nov. 17 kick-off of Syscan.

"I'll be talking even if they haven't fixed it by then," said Miller, "but presumably they will have it fixed. Usually, they fix [vulnerabilities I report] before I present, or immediately after when they realize it's as serious as I said it was."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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