November 10, 2014

Apple’s Mac OS and IOS has been found to be vulnerable to two major threats, namely Rootpipe and Wirelurker. Both the bugs can pose a serious threat to the privacy and security of Apple users as it provides the hackers an access to the system to use it for malicious purposes.

The two main vulnerabilities to IOS have been discussed below:

Discovered by an ethical Swedish hacker Emil Kvarnhammar, Rootpipe is a serious flaw in the system that permits the hacker to increase privileges from the admin to source.

What RootPipe Does?
There are a number of security tiers in the present day operating systems, making it certain that the users do not accidentally authorize any third party to access their computers. The highest security level, known as root access, is typically blocked from the most important programs. Rootpipe lets a hacker ignore the security check and access the computer source without the need of a password. According to Emil Kvarnhammar, “Normally sudo and system preferences require the user to explicitly enter an admin password to run as root. This is circumvented with Rootpipe. To exploit, an attacker would need access to execute code on a target system. Either through physical access, or by combining with another vulnerability (code execution in browser, java, pdf etc.).”

Unless the company rolls out a fix for the security bug, Kvarnhammar advises Apple users to safeguard themselves against malicious attacks by using a system with standard privileges, and avoiding the ones with administrator rights.

This is another software threat discovered by a cyber-security software company, Palo Alto Networks. Wirelurker targets Apple’s IOS operating system as well as OS X software. The bug has been mainly brought into the mainstream by functioning at the back end of pirated Chinese software. When the software is made to run on an Apple platform, the malware automatically gets installed in the system.

Wirelurker has the ability to sense when the user plugs in a USB cable into the device, which allows it to scrape personal data and install malicious copies of the apps. If the device is hacked, it becomes far easier for the bug to install software without Apple’s permission and access information such as old messages and contacts in the device.

According to the intelligence director at Palo Alto networks, Ryan Olson, “Wirelurker is unlike anything we’ve ever seen in terms of Apple iOS and OS X malware. The techniques in use suggest that bad actors are getting more sophisticated when it comes to exploiting some of the world’s best-known desktop and mobile platforms.”

Although Apple has blocked Wirelurker on the iPhones, Rootpipe vulnerability still remains unpatched for now.