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Flaws in Apple Productivity Apps Expose Users to Attacks

21/10/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


Updates released last week by Apple for its productivity apps address a series of vulnerabilities that can be exploited for denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, arbitrary code execution, and user information leakage.

With the release of Keynote 6.6, Pages 5.6, Numbers 3.6, and iWork for iOS 2.6, Apple resolved multiple input validation issues related to how maliciously crafted documents are parsed. The vulnerabilities were reported to the tech giant by Bruno Morisson of INTEGRITY S.A (CVE-2015-3784), and researchers Behrouz Sadeghipour and Patrik Fehrenbach (CVE-2015-7032).

Sadeghipour and Fehrenbach, who earlier this year reported finding a serious email spoofing flaw in the Google Apps Admin console, identified a vulnerability that can be exploited using a specially crafted document that contains malicious XML data.

Exploitation of the vulnerability, reported to Apple on July 23, can result in user information getting compromised via what is known as an XML External Entity (XXE) attack, Sadeghipour told SecurityWeek on Wednesday.

The researcher pointed to OWASP’s definition of such attacks, which says: “An XML External Entity attack is a type of attack against an application that parses XML input. This attack occurs when XML input containing a reference to an external entity is processed by a weakly configured XML parser. This attack may lead to the disclosure of confidential data, denial of service, port scanning from the perspective of the machine where the parser is located, and other system impacts.”

According to the expert, an attacker can exploit the vulnerability by sending a specially crafted Pages, Keynote, or Numbers file to the targeted user. Once the document is opened, the malicious XML data it contains is executed and it reaches an external XML file located on a host controlled by the attacker.

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