Print 30 comment(s) - last by jimhsu.. on Mar 28 at 9:53 PM

Charlie Miller pwned yet another Mac computer at CanSecWest. He says Macs are easier to hack than Windows 7 computers.  (Source: ZDNet)

Peter Vreugdenhil managed to hack a patched 64-bit Windows 7 machine using tricks to bypass the operating system's memory protections.  (Source: ZDNet)
Safari on a Mac and Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7 were also exploited

It's been an action-packed couple of days of Pwn2Own hacking contests at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver.  Hackers eroded Apple's image of superior security, making quick work of both Microsoft and Apple products alike.

The fireworks began with an iPhone exploit coded primarily by Vincenzo Iozzo and Ralf Philipp Weinmann.  The exploit works on fully patched iPhone 3GS (and presumably other models).  It allows a malicious user to lure a target to a website and then steal any or all of the following -- the person's SMS text database (including deleted messages), their contacts, pictures, and iTunes music files.

Describes Iozzo, "Basically, every page that the user visits on our [rigged] site will grab the SMS database and upload it to a server we control."

Halvar Flake also helped the pair develop the exploit.  He says that the iPhone's sandbox protections don't do enough to protect the user fully.  He states, "This exploit doesn’t get out of the iPhone sandbox.  Apple has pretty good counter-measures but they are clearly not enough. The way they implement code-signing is too lenient."

He posts more details on a blog here.  

The exploit currently crashes the browser, but the collaborators are planning a version that allows the browser to keep running.  They sold the rights to the vulnerability to TippingPoint Zero Day Initiative, which is in turn working with Apple to come up with a patch.

Iozzo and Winmann scored the iPhone 3GS they hacked and a $15,000 cash prize.

That wasn't the only Apple product exploited -- as promised, Charlie Miller successfully hacked a Mac computer for the third year in the row.  Conference organizers navigated to a prepared webpage which downloaded content without informing the user.  That download was used by Miller to gain root access to the machine.

Miller is a champion of a hacking/testing technique known as fuzzing.  Fuzzers throw random inputs  such as environment variables, keyboard and mouse events, and sequences of API calls to try to get a program to do something it doesn't usually do (like compromise its security).

For his efforts Miller scored another MacBook Pro (though he probably doesn't need it).  He's cooperating with Apple on a patch and won't release details of the vulnerability until it lands.

Apple wasn't the only OS maker to have their products hacked, though.  Windows 7's much celebrated memory protections were cracked.

Dutch hacker Peter Vreugdenhil infiltrated a fully patched Windows 7 64-bit machine by bypassing the ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention) memory protections.  With the protections down Vreugdenhil used Internet Explorer 8 exploits to hijack the machine.  

Vreugdenhil is also a proponent of fuzzing to discover exploits.  He describes, "I started with a bypass for ALSR which gave me the base address for one of the modules loaded into IE. I used that knowledge to do the DEP bypass.  I specifically looking through my fuzzing logs for a bug like this because I could use it to do the ASLR bypass."

IE team members were on hand to witness the feat.  They said that they are working with conference organizers to determine the nature of the vulnerability and make a patch to protect against it.

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RE: Wait for it...
By biggsjm on 3/25/2010 10:27:24 AM , Rating: -1
You've got to be kidding right? Both the iPhone and Mac "hacks" required a user to navigate to a specific site in order to launch the attack. This in comparison to what the Win7 exploit was, which was a system infiltration that was not user-initiated.

True Moral of the Story - Macs and iPhones are only as secure as their users.

Alternate moral of the story - 15 years ago, who would have thought that people would have cared enough about Apple to even bother attempting to hack it?

RE: Wait for it...
By amanojaku on 3/25/2010 10:59:28 AM , Rating: 5
Maybe I misunderstood the Win7 hack, but it used IE to hack the OS. That is the same thing as the iPhone and Mac hacks; all three where "user initiated" by simply navigating to a malicious web page. All three hacks are valid and 100% possible for anyone with an Internet-connected computer. Considering how hackers have uploaded malicious content to well known sites like CNN, the fact is no site is trustworthy.

RE: Wait for it...
By weskurtz0081 on 3/25/2010 11:26:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, all three exploits were done via the browser.... IE, over the internet.

I wonder who fixes the exploits first?

RE: Wait for it...
By pequin06 on 3/25/2010 11:50:58 AM , Rating: 5
Microsoft will issue a patch, Apple will charge for the new feature.

RE: Wait for it...
By Samus on 3/25/2010 6:10:16 PM , Rating: 3

RE: Wait for it...
By B3an on 3/27/2010 12:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
LOL and release it 6+ months after MS's patch.

RE: Wait for it...
By kamel5547 on 3/25/2010 12:02:55 PM , Rating: 3
All three exploits are browser based. The summary on DailyTech is a little misleading. "HOW: Target is lured to a website hosting an exploit - the attack code bypasses ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) and DEP (Data Execution Prevention) - the attacker gains user right on the machine"

An interesting note is that no one attempted to exploit Chrome due to difficulty in geting out of its sandbox. So I guess the real thing to do is drop your current browser and use Chrome.

15 years ago (1995) Apple had roughly 11% of the personal computer market, so it was probably a more attractive target than now...

On a side note the moral of the story may be that iPhone users are screwed as they cannot use an alternate browser. Its too easy to craft a bad "page", in fact its as easy as buying an ad and convincing a reputable site to carry it (which has happened many times).

RE: Wait for it...
By jimhsu on 3/28/2010 9:53:26 PM , Rating: 2
A well managed whitelist (e.g. NoScript) will always be superior, although usability suffers. Just saying...

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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