New iOS Mail Bug Allows iCloud-Like Popups to Steal User Passwords

by

A new bug facing the iOS Mail app was found recently by security specialist Jan Soucek (via The Register). The malicious bug is capable of delivering false iCloud log-in prompts by allowing remote HTML content to be loaded through an email message delivered to the intended victim. The bug then delivers a convincing iCloud log-in box for users to re-enter their Apple ID and password. Soucek says that Apple did not respond to his discovery of the bug when he stumbled across it back in January.


"Back in January 2015 I stumbled upon a bug in iOS's mail client, resulting in HTML tag in e-mail messages not being ignored. This bug allows remote HTML content to be loaded, replacing the content of the original e-mail message. JavaScript is disabled in this UIWebView, but it is still possible to build a functional password "collector" using simple HTML and CSS."

The bug isn't relegated to only iCloud phishing attacks, however, letting anyone with access to it customize the attack to ask for whichever username and password credentials they feel the need for. Soucek kept the details of the bug only between himself and Apple, letting the company have time to possibly fix the attack and inform him of its progress. Given the company's remaining quietness on the subject, he decided to publish the proof of concept - called the Mail.app inject kit - on GitHub in hopes of spreading its awareness.

"It was filed under Radar #19479280 back in January, but the fix was not delivered in any of the iOS updates following 8.1.2. Therefore I decided to publish the proof of concept code here."

While Soucek's actions bring the malicious bug to more people's attentions and can help stop it in due time, it also means there's a wider chance for phishers to deploy it on their own. Until Apple comments on the story and offers a fix for the bug, it'll be safest to take precaution when any password prompt emerges while browsing email in iOS.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
68 months ago
I've been having issues with repeated requests to log into iCloud for a while so if this happened while I was in Mail, I wouldn't know if it were simply more of the same or a malicious one via Mail itself. You people on here being so smug talking smack about your wives being so dumb need to stop before you embarrass yourself. well, too late but I mean after you also fall for it. This is different than falling for a regular phishing email .
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
68 months ago
Splendid... My wife would fall for that.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
68 months ago
Will the fake dialog swipe/scroll when you scroll the email? If so, that's a quick check as a defensive stopgap for those who want to watch out for this. A real dialog would be stuck to the screen and not move when you scroll.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
68 months ago
Turn two factor authentication or app-specific passwords on (or both) and this will not be a problem. Though obviously it is something that Apple needs to fix.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
68 months ago

That's not something Apple can control without removing features from Mail that exist in literally every modern e-mail client. Essentially what is happening here is Mail is rendering a website. It's a very small website and it's been designed to look like Apple's UI to trick you.

So here are Apple's options:


* They could disable HTML / CSS completely, and push Mail back into the dark ages.
* They could offer a toggle to disable HTML / CSS in Mail, which few people would use and would cause unexpected issues when a valid e-mail requires HTML / CSS to render.
* They could disable specific HTML like FORMS, which would prevent this particular scam but again, cause unexpected issues when a valid e-mail has a valid form.
* They could scan the email for specific html like FORMS and provide a notice/alert that the email might be attempting to steal passwords. This is probably the best scenario but even so it would scare users away from legitimate emails using forms (which granted, are very few)

But again... this e-mail would look the same and FUNCTION the same whether you viewed it on iOS, or OS X, or Windows, or via Safari or Chrome or Opera... whether you loaded the email from Mail.app or via iCloud or Gmail or Outlook or any other email client.

And any "fix" Apple takes on its end is really only a bandage. It wouldn't prevent this phishing email from functioning on other e-mail clients and any "fix" they offer has downsides as listed above.

It's not an exploit. It's not a bug. It's not something that can only affect iOS users outside that it vaguely looks like the iOS environment. It's not a "Meta tag issue" or the result of some faulty programming on the part of Apple's iOS development team.

Perhaps if Apple's own prompts to ask for iCloud passwords here and there weren't as common or secured in some way to clearly be unique to an actual valid system prompt then things of this nature wouldn't have as much potential of being abused.

You haven't checked the link, have you? https://github.com/jansoucek/iOS-Mail.app-inject-kit
It is a meta tag issue, and your four bullets above wouldn't do anything to stop it. The email doesn't have a form, the email redirects the user to a webpage (within the mail client) that has a form. Big difference. And as the person has described, it doesn't work the same way in all mail clients, as others wouldn't follow the meta refresh.
Go read up, then come back and change your mind.

And then there's that.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
68 months ago

Perhaps if Apple's own prompts to ask for iCloud passwords here and there weren't as common or secured in some way to clearly be unique to an actual valid system prompt then things of this nature wouldn't have as much potential of being abused.

I posted a good while ago about exactly this problem. Of my four iCloud enabled devices I must get at least one spurious iCloud password prompt per day (although some periods are worse than others). It seems to be either iMessage and its eternal struggle to get a ****ing grip, or FaceTime, or some other cluster that's gone off behind the scenes. And these prompts are rarely related to me actually trying to so something iCloud related. Just turn on the iPhone, and 'enter your iCloud password'. Apple don't even say why, just training us, like good little dupes, to hand it over whenever some plain white box asks for it.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

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, ...

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...

Google Maps Debuts New Apple Watch App and CarPlay Features

Monday August 10, 2020 9:16 am PDT by
Google today announced the launch of several features for Google Maps on Apple products, including new CarPlay functionality and a new Google Maps app that works on Apple Watch. The new Google Maps app for Apple Watch works similarly to the iOS app, allowing Apple Watch owners to get directions for a car, bike, public transit, or on foot. The app supports estimated arrival times and...

2020 iMac Teardown Reveals Internal Changes and Similarities

Saturday August 8, 2020 12:44 pm PDT by
A teardown video, shared by OWC, reveals the internal changes in the new 2020 27-inch iMac. The 2020 27-inch iMac was announced earlier this week with 10th-generation Intel Core processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, a 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, higher fidelity speakers, and...

Apple Seeds iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Public Beta 4 to Testers

Thursday August 6, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple today seeded new public betas of upcoming iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates to its public beta testing group. Today's software releases, which Apple labels as fourth betas to keep them in line with developer betas, are actually the third betas that Apple has provided and they come two weeks after the prior beta releases. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing...

Apple Believes This German Cycling Path Logo Infringes on Its Own Logo

Wednesday May 1, 2019 9:51 am PDT by
Apple recently objected to the logo of a new German cycling path in an appeal filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office, according to German outlets General-Anzeiger Bonn and Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Apple reportedly takes issue with the logo's green leaf and supposed "bitten" right side, attributes the company believes are too similar to its own logo. The logo, registered with the ...

Supposed iPhone 12 Display Unit Leaks

Thursday August 6, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
An image supposedly of an iPhone 12 display unit has been shared online by leaker "Twitter user Mr. White". Compared to images of an iPhone 11 Pro display piece, this new unit has a reoriented display connector, reaching up from the bottom of the display, rather than from the left-hand side on iPhone 11 Pro. This may be due to the logic board moving to the other side of the device. A...

Foxconn Reportedly Begins Seasonal Hiring Spree for iPhone 12 Production

Monday August 10, 2020 7:03 am PDT by
Apple's largest manufacturing partner Foxconn has begun its seasonal hiring spree to assist with iPhone 12 production, offering employees who recruit qualified applicants up to a 9,000 yuan bonus, according to Chinese media reports. As usual, Foxconn needs as many hands on deck as possible at its factory in Zhengzhou, China to assist with mass production of the upcoming iPhones. Apple is...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

New 27-Inch iMac's Storage Affixed to Logic Board, 4TB and 8TB Configurations Have Expansion Connector

Friday August 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
Following a report from German blog iFun.de that claimed the new 27-inch iMac's flash storage is soldered to the logic board, MacRumors has obtained additional information in an internal document for Apple technicians. In the document, Apple says that the flash storage is indeed affixed to the logic board and cannot be removed. However, for the 4TB and 8TB configurations, Apple says that a...