Apple delivers prodigious patch batch for iPhone

Fixes 46 flaws, including bug that 'Pwn2Own' hacker used to win $US5K in March

Apple yesterday patched 46 security vulnerabilities, half of them in the Safari browser and its WebKit rendering engine, for the iPhone and iPod Touch as it released iPhone OS 3.0.

The company fixed nearly four times the number of flaws Wednesday than when it last patched the iPhone software. In November 2008, Apple issued a security update alongside iPhone 2.2 that plugged 12 holes.

Almost half of the vulnerabilities -- 21 all told -- were tagged with Apple's usual "arbitrary code execution" phrase, lingo that essentially means that the bug is critical and could be used to compromise the device. Unlike other major software makers, such as rival operating system developer Microsoft and database giant Oracle, Apple doesn't rank vulnerabilities using a scoring system.

Not surprisingly, 50% of the patches apply to bugs in Safari, the iPhone and iPod Touch's browser, or WebKit, the open-source browser engine that Apple uses as Safari's foundation. Safari and WebKit have been the focus of most research into iPhone hacks. The first reported iPhone bug, for example, was a Safari flaw found by a trio of researchers, including Charlie Miller, formerly with the National Security Agency, in July 2007.

Twenty-one of the 23 browser-related bugs that Apple patched yesterday were in WebKit code; the remaining two were in Safari itself. Among the former were multiple cross-site scripting bugs that identity thieves could use for phishing attacks and malware makers to inject rogue attack code, including JavaScript, to hijack the browser and gain access to information on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

One of the WebKit vulnerabilities stands out because of the attention it received in March, when a German college student, who gave only his first name, Nils, walked away with a $US5,000 cash prize for hacking Safari at the "Pwn2Own" challenge. Nils used a bug in WebKit's handling of SVGList objects to crack Safari.

Nils' WebKit bug was first patched in a massive 67-flaw fix issued in mid-May for Mac OS X; today Apple patched the same vulnerability in the iPhone's operating system.

Apple addressed eight bugs in CoreGraphics, five in the XML library, two in the iPhone's e-mail client, and other flaws in ImageIO, IPSec and Unicode components of the operating system. The update also patches a vulnerability in how the iPhone connects to Microsoft Exchange servers, which could be exploited to steal data or gain access to the iPhone's Exchange account.

iPhone 3.0, which contains the 46 patches, can be downloaded by connecting the iPhone or iPod Touch to its sync PC or Mac, running iTunes, clicking on the device in the listing on the left and then clicking the "Check for Update" button.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags security patchAppleiPhonepwn2own

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?