Italian teen finds two zero-day vulnerabilities in OS X

The exploit he developed yields root access

An Italian security researcher says he's found two zero-day vulnerabilities in OS X.

An Italian security researcher says he's found two zero-day vulnerabilities in OS X.

An Italian teenager has found two zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple's OS X operating system that could be used to gain remote access to a computer.

The finding comes after Apple patched last week a local privilege escalation vulnerability that was used by some miscreants to load questionable programs onto computers.

Luca Todesco, 18, posted details of the exploit he developed on GitHub. The exploit uses two bugs to cause a memory corruption in OS X's kernel, he wrote via email.

The memory corruption condition can then be used to circumvent kernel address space layout randomization (kASLR), a defensive technique designed to thwart exploit code from running. The attacker then gains a root shell.

The exploit code works in OS X versions 10.9.5 through 10.10.5. It is fixed in OS X 10.11, the beta version of the next Apple OS nicknamed El Capitan.

Todesco, who said he does security research in his spare time, said he notified Apple of the problems "a few hours before the exploit was published."

"This is not due to me having issues with Apple's patch policies/time frames, as others have incorrectly reported," he wrote.

He also developed a patch called NULLGuard, which he's included in the GitHub material. Since he does not have a Mac developer certificate, he wrote that he can't distribute an easy-to-install version of the patch.

Apple officials could be not immediately reached for comment.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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Jeremy Kirk

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