3 min read

Yesterday, two members of the Google Project Zero team revealed about six “interactionless” security bugs that can affect iOS by exploiting the iMessage Client. Four of these bugs can execute malicious code on a remote iOS device, without any prior user interaction.

Apple released fixes for these bugs in the iOS 12.4 update on July 22. The two Project Zero researchers, Natalie Silvanovich and Samuel Groß, published details and demo proof-of-concept only for five out of the six vulnerabilities. Details of one of the “interactionless” vulnerabilities have been kept private because Apple’s iOS 12.4 patch did not completely resolve the bug, according to Natalie Silvanovich.

4 bugs can perform an RCE via a malformed message

Bugs with vulnerability IDs, CVE-2019-8647, CVE-2019-8660, CVE-2019-8662, CVE-2019-8641 (the one whose details are kept private), can execute malicious code on a remote iOS device. The attacker has to simply send a malformed message to the victim’s phone. Once the user opens the message and views it, the malicious code will automatically execute without the user knowing about it.


2 bugs can leak user’s on-device data to a remote device

The other two bugs, CVE-2019-8624 and CVE-2019-8646, allow an attacker to leak data from a user’s device memory and read files off a remote device. This execution too can happen without the user knowing.

“Apple’s own notes about iOS 12.4 indicate that the unfixed flaw could give hackers a means to crash an app or execute commands of their own on recent iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches if they were able to discover it”, BBC reports.

Silvanovich will talk about these remote and interactionless iPhone vulnerabilities at this year’s Black Hat security conference held at Las Vegas from August 3 – 8. An abstract of her talk reads, “There have been rumors of remote vulnerabilities requiring no user interaction being used to attack the iPhone, but limited information is available about the technical aspects of these attacks on modern devices.

Her presentation will explore “the remote, interaction-less attack surface of iOS. It discusses the potential for vulnerabilities in SMS, MMS, Visual Voicemail, iMessage and Mail, and explains how to set up tooling to test these components. It also includes two examples of vulnerabilities discovered using these methods.”

According to ZDNet, “When sold on the exploit market, vulnerabilities like these can bring a bug hunter well over $1 million, according to a price chart published by Zerodium. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Silvanovich just published details about exploits worth well over $5 million, and most likely valued at around $10 million”.

For iOS users who haven’t yet updated the latest version, it is advisable to install the iOS 12.4 release without any delay. Early this month, the Google Project Zero team revealed a bug in Apple’s iMessage that bricks iPhone causing a repetitive crash and respawn operations. This bug was patched in iOS 12.3 update.

To know more about these five vulnerabilities in detail, visit the Google Project Zero bug report page.

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