Apple plugs critical iPhone jailbreak holes

Patches iOS just 10 days after exploits appeared; but researcher wonders about Mac OS X

Apple today patched the two vulnerabilities used to jailbreak Apple's newest iOS 4 operating system, bugs that security researchers warned could be used to hijack iPhones , iPod Touches or iPads .

The patches came just 10 days after a group published a site that automatically exploited and then jailbroke any iOS 4 device that used the mobile Safari browser to surf to jailbreakme.com .

Last week, one prominent iPhone vulnerability researcher called the exploit -- which was actually a two-stage hack -- both "sweet" and "scary."

Also last week, other researchers confirmed that the first exploit of the pair leveraged a flaw in Safari's parsing of fonts in PDF documents to compromise the browser. A second vulnerability was exploited to break out of the isolating "sandbox" and gain full, or "root," control of the device.

Today, Apple identified both bugs.

"A stack buffer overflow exists in FreeType's handling of CFF [Compact Font Format] opcodes," Apple's advisory said. "Viewing a PDF document with maliciously crafted embedded fonts may allow arbitrary code execution."

FreeType is an open-source font engine that Apple uses as a component in both its Mac OS X desktop operating system and in iOS on its mobile devices.

The vulnerability used by jailbreak.com to gain root access to iPhones was in IOSurface, a code framework available to developers in both iOS and Mac OS X, Apple said. "Malicious code running as the user may gain system privileges," the advisory read.

Apple issued a separate update for the iPad because the tablet still runs a predecessor of iOS 4.

According to the Apple advisory, the update does not apply to 2007's first-generation iPhone, but only to the iPhone 3G or later running iOS 2.0 or later.

Nor is Apple apparently patching either of the vulnerabilities in Mac OS X, or even acknowledging whether they exist in the desktop operating system. "Apple no patchy os x. Is it not vulnerable or do they only care in stopping jailbreaking?" tweeted Charlie Miller Wednesday.

A well-known security researcher with a reputation for hacking Macs and iPhones, Miller called the jailbreaking two-stage exploit "beautiful work" last week.

Today's patches weren't a surprise.

Earlier this week, security blogger Ryan Naraine reported that sources had told him Apple was going to ship an iOS update this week. And last Friday, the FreeType patched the CFF bug in its source tree, which would have given Apple the necessary source code to craft their update.

Users can download the iOS update by connecting their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to their PC or Mac, running iTunes, clicking on the device in the listing on the left and then clicking the "Check for Update" button.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobilesmartphonesAppleoperating systemssoftwaretelecommunicationPhonesconsumer electronicsMobile and WirelessMacintoshMac OS

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?