Developer Warns Against Using In-App Browsers on iOS Due to Potential for Keylogging

Craig Hockenberry, one of the developers behind Twitterriffic, has written a blog post warning iOS users about in-app browsers, which he says are "considered harmful." According to Hockenberry, and as outlined in a video, an in-app browser has the ability to record what's being typed, even at a secure login screen.

This means an unscrupulous developer could potentially create an app with an in-app browser to capture the usernames and passwords of users who login to websites like Twitter or Facebook with the browser. Many existing apps use in-app browsers to allow users to do things like login with an already existing social media account simply to make the login process easier, but it appears there's also potential for abuse.

A few things to note about what you're seeing:

The information at the top of the screen is generated by the app, not the web page. This information could easily be uploaded to remote server.

This is not phishing: the site shown is the actual Twitter website. This technique can be applied to any site that has a input form. All the attacker needs to know can easily be obtained by viewing the public facing HTML on the site.

The app is stealing your username and password by watching what you type on the site. There's nothing the site owner can do about this, since the web view has control over JavaScript that runs in the browser.

Hockenberry says that acquiring usernames and passwords works in both iOS 7 and iOS 8, and may also work in earlier versions of iOS, but he is quick to point out that it is not a bug, as the techniques demonstrated in the video can be used for "good as well as evil."

Hockenberry does not have a clear solution in mind for Apple, as fixing the core behavior of both WebKit and UIWebView would require the company to update every version of iOS that included Safari and WebKit, but he does suggest the company could protect users with OAuth.

As for end users, Hockenberry warns not to enter private information when using an app that's not Safari. Browsing web content is safe, but he recommends that users open a link in Safari if there are any concerns about private information. More details on the security of in-app browsers, OAuth, and Hockenberry's recommendations can be found in his original blog post.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
77 months ago
I use 1Password, which has an in-app browser. Kind of ironic, really...
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
And the good news just keeps on coming. I have a feeling Tim Cook will be drinking heavily this weekend.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
InAppGate

BrowserGate

FMLgate
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago

I'm sure he'll be crying into the billions Apple made this week.


Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago
this would be a problem on any phone not just a ios device.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
77 months ago

I'm sure he'll be crying into the billions Apple made this week.

Financially they won't take much of a hit (although AAPL is kind of a separate thing). But what's more valuable than Apple's pile of cash? Their brand. And that is taking a pretty good beating in recent weeks, from the leaked iCloud accounts, the botched keynote video live stream, Tim Cook's awkward moment with Bono that makes them look old and uncool even to old people, the free U2 album download that no one wanted forced on them, the horrendous iPhone 6 preorder fiasco, various iPhone 6 issues, many annoying iOS 8.0 issues (including all HealthKit apps getting pulled from the App Store), to todays botched 8.0.1 "fix" that disables the primary communication stream of iPhones. I mean they will get through it, but it's been kind of rough.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone Maker Foxconn Says China's 'Days as the World's Factory Are Done'

Wednesday August 12, 2020 7:55 am PDT by
China will no longer be the world's manufacturing epicenter going forward, according to Apple's largest supply chain partner Foxconn, which has been gradually expanding its operations in other countries amid the U.S.-China trade war. "No matter if it's India, Southeast Asia or the Americas, there will be a manufacturing ecosystem in each," said Foxconn chairman Young Liu, according to Bloombe...

Leaker Jon Prosser: Apple Watch and iPad Launching in September, iPhone 12 Event to Take Place in October

Wednesday August 12, 2020 4:31 pm PDT by
Apple last month confirmed that this year's iPhone 12 models will launch outside of their normal September timeframe and will be "available a few weeks later," which has led to speculation about when an event might be held. Leaker Jon Prosser, who sometimes shares accurate knowledge of Apple's plans, today said that Apple will hold its iPhone 12 event during the week of October 12, with...

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Apple to Launch Bundled Subscription Services Called 'Apple One'

Thursday August 13, 2020 3:41 am PDT by
Apple will launch a new range of subscription service bundles called "Apple One" as soon as October, according to a new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The series of bundles would allow customers to subscribe to several Apple digital services together. This is expected to result in a lower monthly price than when the services are subscribed to individually. Bloomberg reports that the...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.6.1 With Fix for Storage Issue and Green Tinted Displays

Wednesday August 12, 2020 1:31 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.6.1, minor updates that come a month after the release of the iOS 13.6 update with Car Keys and Audio Apple News+ stories. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.6.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13.6.1 addresses an issue that could cause...

Apple May Release 4G-Only iPhone 12 in Early 2021

Tuesday August 11, 2020 5:28 am PDT by
In a research note shared by Business Insider, Wedbush Securities analysts said that Apple may release a cheaper iPhone 12 in early 2021 with no 5G connectivity. Wedbush initially believed Apple would launch a mix of 4G and 5G iPhone 12 models this fall. Following re-examination of Asian supply chains, analysts Daniel Ives, Strecker Backe, and Ahmad Khalil revised the predictions,...

Apple Removes Fortnite From App Store [Update: Epic Files Lawsuit Against Apple]

Thursday August 13, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Just hours after Epic Games introduced a new direct payment option for Fortnite that skirts Apple's in-app purchase rules, Apple has pulled the Fortnite app from the App Store. Fortnite is no longer available for download on the iPhone or the iPad, and Apple provided a statement to MacRumors on Fortnite's removal:Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store...

iPad Pro Keyboard Comparison: Logitech's $160 Folio Touch vs. Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard

Tuesday August 11, 2020 2:11 pm PDT by
Logitech recently debuted the Folio Touch, a keyboard and trackpad case designed for the 11-inch iPad Pro that serves as an alternative to the Magic Keyboard. In our latest YouTube video, we compare the $160 Folio Touch to Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard to see which is better. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Logitech is selling the Folio Touch for $160, while Apple's...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.6 Supplemental Update With Virtualization Bug Fix

Wednesday August 12, 2020 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple today released a supplemental update for macOS Catalina 10.15.6, with the update coming a month after the original launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.6. The ‌‌macOS Catalina‌‌ 10.15.6 Supplemental Update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System Preferences app. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a problem that could cause...

Kuo: Global iPhone Shipments Could Decline Up to 30% If Apple Forced to Remove WeChat From App Store [Updated x2]

Sunday August 9, 2020 10:17 pm PDT by
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo viewed by MacRumors. The removal could occur due to a recent executive order aiming to ban U.S. transactions with WeChat and its parent company Tencent. Kuo lays out...