76 Popular Apps Vulnerable to Data Interception, Warns iOS Security Researcher

by

At least 76 popular iOS apps have been found to be vulnerable to data inception, according to a report from a security expert.

The discovery was made by app binary code scanning service verify.ly and published in a Medium post by Sudo Security Group CEO Will Strafach, who revealed that the apps failed to make use of the Transport Layer Security protocol.

The TLS protocol secures communication between client and server. Without the protection, the apps are susceptible to data interception by an attacker with access to custom hardware such as modified smartphone, which can be used to initiate TLS certificate injection attacks. The interception is possible regardless of whether the developers chose to use Apple networking security feature, App Transport Security.

The truth of the matter is, this sort of attack can be conducted by any party within Wi-Fi range of your device while it is in use. This can be anywhere in public, or even within your home if an attacker can get within close range.

There is no possible fix to be made on Apple's side, because if they were to override this functionality in attempt to block this security issue, it would actually make some iOS applications less secure as they would not be able to utilize certificate pinning for their connections, and they could not trust otherwise untrusted certificates which may be required for intranet connections within an enterprise using an in-house PKI. Therefore, the onus rests solely on app developers themselves to ensure their apps are not vulnerable.

Apps in the vulnerable list included a number of popular downloads like third-party Snapchat apps, the official app for Vice News, and banking apps for banks based in Puerto Rico and Libya.

Strafach sorted the 76 apps into low, medium, and high risk categories, and says he is reaching out to developers to fix the problems before disclosing the most high-risk apps in the list. According to Strafach, more than 18,000,000 downloads of the vulnerable app versions have been downloaded from the App Store.

Until the issues are dealt with, Strafach advises users of the apps to avoid accessing them over Wi-Fi, as it's harder to exploit the vulnerabilities over a cellular network.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
46 months ago
For the tl;dr crowd, the medium and high security risk app list won't be published for 60-90 days to give the devs time to mitigate the exploit. Bookmark the page and check back then!

This shows us, again, that Apple's scrutiny is far from perfect. In the mean time use VPN.

Not really, or at least this is a misleading statement. Obscure networking attacks are hardly particular to Apple devices. That's what bug bounties and security updates are for in all OS's. But if you prefer the wild west of the uncurated Google play store, go right ahead. But I agree with using a VPN service. Anyone who's fool enough to conduct financial transactions on an open WiFi network...
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago

There is nothing wrong or misleading about the fact that Apple missed it, and since security is important to all of us... that is why Apple should have caught the problem long before security researchers do (did in this specific case).

Respectfully disagree. The headline, "15,000 Ford cars involved in accidents this year" implies that there's something about Fords that's a particular problem. It may be true that app clearinghouses like Apple's App Store should scrutinize every line of submitted code, but it's misleading to suggest that this is a particularly Apple problem.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago
Very much expected. Security is a moving target for both developers and consumers. What may be totally secure today could be insecure tomorrow. As for TLS, only TLS 1.2 is currently secure so it's using the right version at the right time. You also have to stay on top of third party libraries and think like an attacker. Troy Hunt shows how easy it is to break the security of a lot of apps. The problem is people don't think like an attacker and so miss critical areas.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago

Maybe Apple's screeners shoulda woulda coulda, but it's completely fair for Apple to advertise iOS as safest and macOS as most secure vs major competitors. No guarantees ever, they don't claim it, and people don't expect a guarantee.

This problem exists in an order of magnitude greater numbers ('https://www.fireeye.com/blog/threat-research/2014/08/ssl-vulnerabilities-who-listens-when-android-applications-talk.html') in Google Play. Your position seems to be that Apple has no right to market its more secure App Store as more secure unless is can guarantee zero exploits. Sure, bad stuff can get through, but if your main concern is the safety of offerings, you'll pick the App Store over Google Play every time. Inversely, Google isn't absolved of dealing with appsec just because they don't advertise it as an asset.

I'm not sure why apple can't advertise ios as safe, given the millions of apps in the app store, some small percentage have vulnerability issue. Absolute security is not a destination it's a process. In the same way a 5 start auto rating by NHTSA does not mean no deaths in accidents for that vehicle.

On another note, I'm going to start using LTE more instead of wifi.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago

I'm not sure why apple can't advertise ios as safe, given the millions of apps in the app store, some small percentage have vulnerability issue. Absolute security is not a destination it's a process. In the same way a 5 start auto rating by NHTSA does not mean no deaths in accidents for that vehicle.

On another note, I'm going to start using LTE more instead of wifi.

I knew there was a better car analogy somewhere!

Cellular is better, at least compared to open WiFi, but get a respected VPN service if you take security seriously.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
46 months ago
This is pretty insane. Banking apps without (proper) TLS connection? You've gotta be ******** me.

In the western world banks (or other companies using sensitive data) would immediately be penalized for not securing their users data (and would likely lose a whole lot of customers).
Score: 1 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...

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...

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,...

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 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 ...

Apple Seeds First Public Beta of watchOS 7 to Public Beta Testers

Monday August 10, 2020 10:33 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first public beta of an upcoming watchOS 7 update to public beta testers, one week after seeding the fourth beta to developers and a month and a half after the Worldwide Developers Conference. The update can be downloaded after installing the proper profile from Apple's Public Beta website. watchOS 7 should not be installed on a primary device as it is still an early...

Apple Watch Likely to Adopt MicroLED Display Technology in 3-4 Years

Monday August 10, 2020 2:55 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 6 is expected to feature an OLED screen like previous models, but a future model is likely to be the first Apple product to adopt MicroLED display technology, albeit not for another three to four years. That's the main takeaway reading between the lines of comments made by the chairman of Epistar, Taiwan's top LED producer, which is reportedly working on a...

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...