Update your iThings: Apple splats scary SSL snooping bug in iOS 6, 7
Apple has released updates for its mobile operating system iOS to patch a bug that blew apart the integrity of encrypted connections in the right conditions.
Versions 7.0.6 and 6.1.6, available now for download, fixes a vulnerability that could allow “an attacker with a privileged network position” to “capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS,” according to the Cupertino corp. This is due to the Secure Transport component of the operating system failing to validate “the authenticity of the connection,” suggesting some sort of failure to verify the certificate or identity of whatever system a vulnerable iDevice was connected to.
In short, users should apply the security update as soon as possible to avoid falling foul of a man-in-the-middle attack: we can imagine a malicious router or Wi-Fi access point exploiting this iOS flaw to masquerade as a legit server, and thus intercept and decrypt the contents of a supposedly secure connection.
SSL and TLS are used the world over to prevent eavesdroppers from snooping on network traffic to and from sensitive services, such as banking and shopping websites and email servers. But this only works if the other end of the connection can be verified and trusted.
Apple admits “this issue was addressed by restoring missing validation steps.” It reserved CVE-2014-1266 for the bug on January 8 this year, but when and how exactly the flaw was introduced and subsequently discovered is not clear.
The patch, weighing in between 16MB and 35MB, can be applied to any handheld running iOS 7, and even iPhone 3GSes and fourth-gen iPods running version 6 – a further clue that Apple considers this a very serious bug.
The next major release, iOS 7.1, is due out in March once developers have finished beta testing it. ®