Second HTTPS snooping flaw breaks security for thousands of iOS apps

Hackers can exploit the vulnerability to launch man-in-the-middle attacks and decrypt traffic from the affected apps

Attackers can potentially snoop on the encrypted traffic of over 25,000 iOS applications due to a vulnerability in a popular open-source networking library.

The vulnerability stems from a failure to validate the domain names of digital certificates in AFNetworking, a library used by a large number of iOS and Mac OS X app developers to implement Web communications -- including those over HTTPS (HTTP with SSL/TLS encryption).

The flaw allows attackers in a position to intercept HTTPS traffic between a vulnerable application and a Web service to decrypt it by presenting the application with a digital certificate for a different domain name. Such man-in-the-middle attacks can be launched over insecure wireless networks, by hacking into routers or through other methods.

According to a company called SourceDNA, which tracks the use of third-party components in mobile apps, more than 25,000 iOS applications are potentially vulnerable because they use AFNetworking 2.5.2 or older versions.

The vulnerability was fixed in AFNetworking 2.5.3, released on April 20.

Applications that have certificate pinning turned on are not vulnerable, but this mechanism is only used by a small number of developers, SourceDNA said Friday in a blog post.

One interesting aspect of this flaw is that it was reported to the AFNetworking developers on March 27, one day after a different flaw that allowed HTTPS snooping was addressed in AFNetworking 2.5.2.

That vulnerability only existed in AFNetworking 2.5.1, released on Feb. 9, and it ended up affecting 1,000 of the over 100,000 iOS apps that use AFNetworking. The new flaw renders apps that use older versions of the library vulnerable as well, as long as they rely on AFNetworking for establishing HTTPS connections to Web servers.

SourceDNA set up an online service called Searchlight that can be used by users to manually check if the iOS apps installed on their devices are vulnerable. The service shows that apps from large developers like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are potentially affected by the AFNetworking flaws.

Join the newsletter!

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

Tags securityprivacyMicrosoftmobile securityGoogleencryptionYahoopatchesExploits / vulnerabilitiesSourceDNA

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

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

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

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?