Attackers continue to nibble at Apple’s iOS security
Three vulnerabilities in Apple’s mobile software could be used to power drive-by download attacks and chained to exploit either iPhones or iPads, a researcher with security firm Kaspersky warned this week.
Last week, Apple released an update to fix the three vulnerabilities — one in the kernel used by iOS and iPadOS and two in the WebKit browser library — noting that the company had reports of the issues being actively exploited. While Kaspersky revealed no details on how the exploits are being used, the fact that two vulnerabilities are in the basic software used to power the Safari browser means the attack surface is quite large.
The actual scenario quite likely depends on the attackers’ aims, says Victor Chebyshev, security analyst at Kaspersky.
“If an attacker is interested only in browser data such as history or credentials, he or she will exploit the browser vulnerability,” he says. “However, our experience shows us that cybercriminals are often interested in being on infected devices as long as possible, [so will use] an exploit chain to achieve persistence on the device and data extraction of things like social media conversations and messenger data.”
Apple’s iPhone and iPad products are regularly targeted by attackers. In a November update, the company patched three issues in iOS and the iPadOS that were also being actively exploited, according to Google’s Project Zero team, which reported the issues. In addition, commercial spyware providers have incorporated exploits for Apple’s mobile operating systems purchased from the gray market to allow the governments of smaller nations to conduct “zero-click” attacks, The Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at University of Toronto, documented in late December.
Apple’s iOS currently appears to have more than a quarter of the worldwide market share for mobile operating systems, compared with more than 70% for Android-powered mobile devices, according to StateCounter’s GlobalStats report.
While users of Android devices need to beware of malicious files and may want to consider running anti-malware solutions, users of Apple’s mobile operating systems need to worry most about fileless attacks, such as drive-by downloads, which the current vulnerabilities would allow, says Chebyshev.
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