New Details Emerge on Security Researcher Potentially Responsible for Dev Center Outage

Early this morning, independent security researcher Ibrahim Balic speculated that he may be responsible for the security breach that caused an extended outage of Apple's Developer Center, which has been offline since late last week.

Despite Balic's claim that he reported his findings directly to Apple and did not intend to act maliciously, information that he gave in an interview with TechCrunch suggests somewhat questionable behavior.

Balic, who has reported 13 different bugs to Apple, originally discovered an iAd Workbench vulnerability on June 18 that allowed a request sent to the server to be manipulated. This security hole could be used to acquire the names and email addresses of iTunes users (even non-developers). After finding the loophole, Balic wrote a Python script to harvest data from the vulnerability and then displayed it in a YouTube video, which may have put him on Apple's radar.

balicbugs

A screenshot of Balic's submitted bug reports. Click to enlarge.

In addition to the iAd Workbench bug, Balic also discovered and submitted a report on a bug that caused the Dev Center site to be vulnerable to a stored XSS attack. While Balic says that it was possible to access user data by exploiting the Dev Center issue, he claims that he did not do so. According to TechCrunch, Balic's YouTube video (which has since been removed) contained full names and email addresses, and it is unclear where they originated.

It's too bad, though, that the video seemed so definitive: After showing off images of Apple's downed Dev Center and the company's official response, Balic then showed a slew of files that seem to contain full names and email addresses. It seems pretty damning, but Balic says that he never went after the Developer Center site directly, and all that user information he highlighted came from the iAd Workbench. Two separate bugs paved the way for one very confusing video.

Balic claims that he harvested data on 73 Apple employees and 100,000 other iTunes users, but he says that he did not use the Developer Center exploit that he first submitted on July 16, instead garnering the data from the iAd Workbench issue.

TechCrunch reports that the data that Balic gained (limited to email addresses and Apple IDs) may have come from non-developer accounts, though Apple has clearly stated that only developer accounts were affected.

Throughout our conversation, Balic maintained that he was only ever trying to help Apple. When asked why he downloaded all that user data rather than simply reporting the bug, Balic says he just wanted to see how "deep" he could go. If he wanted to do ill, he says, he wouldn't have reported everything he found. For what it's worth, he also says he never attempted to reset anyone's password — the farthest he went was to email one of the addresses he had discovered and ask if it was really the person's Apple ID. Balic didn't get a response.

Due to the ambiguity of the source of the names and email addresses shown in Balic's video, it is unclear whether or not he caused the Dev Center outage by manipulating the iAd Workbench bug and it is equally unclear what his intentions were.

Top Rated Comments

chrono1081 Avatar
123 months ago
The fact that he showed names and email addresses of his victims makes me not believe a single word about him not being malicious.

A smart and caring person would have blurred out names and addresses in their video.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
123 months ago
"He just wanted to see how deep he could go" ...that's not a white-hat hacker.

Going as deep as possible is exactly what most developers reporting a bug do, in an attempt to be helpful.

And posting a YouTube video of your attack is not the way to deal with a serious security threat like this.

Eh? He didn't show how to do it.

This guy is at the least naive and immature, and at worst malicious. In either case, he's not a professional researcher, he's just a jackass looking for fame.

It sounds like he was scared that Apple might blame him for their goof.

He should have given Apple more time before resorting to doing this. At least a week to respond, it's a large company.

What on earth are you talking about? Resorting to what?

He officially and privately reported the data leaks to Apple, same as he had reported previous bugs. In (what he thought was a) response to his bug report, Apple shut down their website.

Days later, Apple finally posts a note blaming an intruder. He thought they meant him, although it's quite possible that his bug report actually clued them into a much larger problem.

And he still hasn't given any details on the data leak mechanics.

His only goof was showing some names in his video, but heck, even Apple claims those are not sensitive private details.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chrono1081 Avatar
123 months ago
A smart and caring company would have made it unnecessary for him to go public.

I don't think you quite realize how security breaches work. He gave apple only a few hours, they probably didn't even get to his request in that time.

He went public immediately after. Real life is not like the movies, you need to find out how much data someone had access to before releasing a statement which takes time. Apple did it pretty quickly IMO.

Releasing something saying "WE GOT HACKED" without knowing anything about it is not only a PR disaster, but its not the right way to do things because people will want answers and you won't be able to give it to them without knowing what the hacker got ahold of.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
123 months ago
Seems to me this guy just wants attention and is clearly getting his wish.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Konrad9 Avatar
123 months ago
The fact that he showed names and email addresses of his victims makes me not believe a single word about him not being malicious.

A smart and caring person would have blurred out names and addresses in their video.

A smart and caring company would have made it unnecessary for him to go public.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
123 months ago
"If he wanted to do ill, he says, he wouldn't have reported everything he found."

Something about this just seems a little fishy, I dunno. If I was to break into your house but steal nothing, that would still be a crime. Especially knowing how seriously Apple take security, I think there's the potential for this to balloon out of control.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature

FBI Calls End-to-End Encryption 'Deeply Concerning' as Privacy Groups Hail Apple's Advanced Data Protection as a Victory for Users

Thursday December 8, 2022 2:45 am PST by
Apple yesterday announced that end-to-end encryption is coming to even more sensitive types of iCloud data, including device backups, messages, photos, and more, meeting the longstanding demand of both users and privacy groups who have rallied for the company to take the significant step forward in user privacy. iCloud end-to-end encryption, or what Apple calls "Advanced Data Protection,"...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple Music Sing in iOS 16.2

Wednesday December 7, 2022 12:24 pm PST by
With the iOS 16.2 release candidate that came out today, Apple added the new Apple Music Sing feature that was announced earlier this week. We thought we'd check out the new karaoke feature to see how it works. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple Music Sing is available on modern iPhones and iPads, as well as the newest Apple TV 4K. It's built in to the Apple...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026

Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:31 pm PST by
Apple is aiming to launch an Apple-branded consumer-oriented vehicle by 2026, and its goal is to hit a price point under $100,000 to make the car appeal to a wider range of customers, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially planned to design a car that might look similar to Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle, where passengers could face one another in a limousine-style car with no steering wheel or...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Expected to Launch Next Week With These 12 New Features

Thursday December 8, 2022 7:05 am PST by
iOS 16.2 is expected to be released next week following nearly two months of beta testing. With last-minute additions like Apple Music Sing and Advanced Data Protection, the software update now has over a dozen new features for the iPhone. Below, we've recapped many of the new features coming with iOS 16.2, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets, the...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...
Twitter Feature

Twitter to Charge $11 Per Month for Twitter Blue on iPhone, $7 on Website

Wednesday December 7, 2022 6:47 pm PST by
Twitter plans to charge $11 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription on the iPhone in order to account for the 30 percent cut that Apple takes from in-app purchases, reports The Information. On the web, Twitter Blue will be priced at $7 per month. Prior to when Twitter Blue was paused, Twitter was charging $7.99 for a subscription, but the pricing will change before it relaunches. According ...
Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature

Apple Announces End-to-End Encryption Option for iCloud Photos, Notes, Backups, and More

Wednesday December 7, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today announced it is expanding end-to-end encryption to many additional iCloud data categories on an opt-in basis for enhanced security. iCloud already protects 14 data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including the Messages app when backups are disabled, passwords stored in iCloud Keychain, Health data, Apple Maps search history, Apple Card transactions, and more,...