Apple quietly released iOS 7.06 late Friday afternoon, fixing a problem in how iOS 7 validates SSL certificates. Attackers can exploit this issue to launch a man-in-the-middle attack and eavesdrop on all user activity, experts warned.
“An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS,” Apple said in its advisory.
Users should update immediately.
Watch Out for Eavesdroppers
As usual, Apple didn’t provide a lot of information about the issue, but security experts familiar with the vulnerability warned that attackers on the same network as the victim would be able to read secure communications. In this case, the attacker could intercept, and even modify, the messages as they pass from the user’s iOS 7 device to secured sites, such as Gmail or Facebook, or even for online banking sessions. The issue is a “fundamental bug in Apple’s SSL implementation,” said Dmitri Alperovich, CTO of CrowdStrike.
The software update is available for the current version of iOS for iPhone 4 and later, 5th generation iPod Touch, and iPad 2 and later. iOS 7.06 and iOS 6.1.6. The same flaw exists in the latest version of Mac OS X but has not yet been patched, Adam Langley, a senior engineer at Google, wrote on his ImperialViolet blog. Langley confirmed the flaw was also in iOS 7.0.4 and OS X 10.9.1
Certificate validation is critical in establishing secure sessions, as this is how a site (or a device) verifies that the information is coming from a trusted source. By validating the certificate, the bank website knows that the request is coming from the user, and is not a spoofed request by an attacker. The user’s browser also relies on the certificate to verify the response came from the bank’s servers and not from an attacker sitting in the middle and intercepting sensitive communications.
It appears Chrome and Firefox, which uses NSS instead of SecureTransport, aren’t affected by the vulnerability even if the underlying OS is vulnerable, Langley said. He created a test site at https://www.imperialviolet.org:1266. “If you can load an HTTPS site on port 1266 then you have this bug,” Langley said
Users should update their Apple devices as soon as possible, and when the OS X update is available, to apply that patch as well. The updates should be applied while on a trusted network, and users should really avoid accessing secure sites while on untrusted networks (especially Wi-Fi) while traveling/
“On unpatched mobile and laptop devices, set ‘Ask to Join Networks’ setting to OFF, which will prevent them from showing prompts to connect to untrusted networks,” wrote Alex Radocea, a researcher from CrowdStrike.
Considering recent concerns about the possibility of government snooping, the fact that iPhones and iPads were not validating certificates correctly can be alarming for some. “I’m not going to talk details about the Apple bug except to say the following. It is seriously exploitable and not yet under control,” Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University, posted on Twitter.
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Source: PC World Security Watch