macOS Keychain Security Flaw Discovered by Researcher, but Details Not Shared With Apple Over Bug Bounty Protest

German security researcher Linus Henze this week discovered a new zero-day macOS vulnerability dubbed "KeySteal," which, as demoed in the video below, can be used to get to all of the sensitive data stored in the Keychain app.

Henze appears to use a malicious app to extract data from the Mac's Keychain app without the need for administrator access or an administrator password. It can get passwords and other information from Keychain, as well as passwords and details for other macOS users.


Henze has not shared the details of this exploit with Apple and says that he won't release it because Apple has no bug bounty program available for macOS. "So blame them," Henze writes in the video's description. In a statement to Forbes, Henze clarified his position, and said that discovering vulnerabilities takes time.

"Finding vulnerabilities like this one takes time, and I just think that paying researchers is the right thing to do because we're helping Apple to make their product more secure."

Apple has a reward program for iOS that provides money to those who discover bugs, but there is no similar payment system for macOS bugs.

According to German site Heise Online, which spoke to Henze, the exploit allows access to Mac Keychain items but not information stored in iCloud. Keychain is also required to be unlocked, something that happens by default when a user logs in to their account on a Mac.

applekeychain
Keychain can be locked by opening up the Keychain app, but an admin password then needs to be entered whenever an application needs to access Keychain, which can be inconvenient.

Apple's security team has reached out to Henze, according to ZDNet, but he has continued to refuse to provide additional detail unless they provide a bug bounty program for macOS. "Even if it looks like I'm doing this just for money, this is not my motivation at all in this case," said Henze. "My motivation is to get Apple to create a bug bounty program. I think that this is the best for both Apple and Researchers."

This isn't the first Keychain-related vulnerability discovered in macOS. Security researcher Patrick Wardle demoed a similar vulnerability in 2017, which has been patched.

Top Rated Comments

Scottsoapbox Avatar
69 months ago
How does Apple not have a bug bounty program? Did they start believing their own marketing on Mac OS?
Score: 66 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Goompa Avatar
69 months ago
It doesn’t surprise me. It’s been long time since Apple seemed to care about macOS.

I’m happy for the researcher. Let’s put some pressure on the giant.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
69 months ago
Thank god! It was so time-consuming having to double FaceTime call people and wait for them to casually list their passwords as part of natural conversation.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CE3 Avatar
69 months ago
I understand that finding flaws isn't always an easy thing and can take highly educated/skilled people lots of time to find things like this however no one is forcing this guy to do it.

This sounds a bit like extortion to me.
Extortion implies that not informing developers of bugs is illegal, which it isn’t of course. Apple has likely “reached out” to offer a reward, but he says his motivation is to use this as an opportunity to get a reward program in place for everyone. Good for him. it will probably happen now.

Yes, no one forced him to find this vulnerability, but if you’re a macOS user you should be thankful that he did.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
displaced Avatar
69 months ago
Hmm.

Are Bug Bounty rewards a good idea which provide incentive and reward to bug researchers? Yes. Should Apple have one for macOS? Most likely.

Should a researcher withhold details on a discovered bug as a protest about the lack of a bounty? I don't think so. It seems both unprofessional and dangerous.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lostngone Avatar
69 months ago
I understand that finding flaws isn't always an easy thing and can take highly educated/skilled people lots of time to find things like this however no one is forcing this guy to do it.

This sounds a bit like extortion to me.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

iMessage Down for Some Users [Update: Service Restored]

Thursday May 16, 2024 3:00 pm PDT by
The iMessage service that Apple users to send messages to one another appears to be down for some users, and messages are failing to go out or are taking an extra long time to send. There are numerous reports about the issue on social networks and a spike of outage reports on Down Detector, but Apple's System Status page is not yet reporting an outage. Update: Apple's status page says...
iOS 17

Troubling iOS 17.5 Bug Reportedly Resurfacing Old Deleted Photos

Wednesday May 15, 2024 5:29 am PDT by
There are concerning reports on Reddit that Apple's latest iOS 17.5 update has introduced a bug that causes old photos that were deleted – in some cases years ago – to reappear in users' photo libraries. After updating their iPhone, one user said they were shocked to find old NSFW photos that they deleted in 2021 suddenly showing up in photos marked as recently uploaded to iCloud. Other...
iphone 15 pro max vs iphone 16 pro max

iPhone 16 Pro Max Looks This Much Bigger Beside iPhone 15 Pro Max

Thursday May 16, 2024 4:51 am PDT by
This year's upcoming iPhone 16 Pro Max is expected to get a boost in overall size from 6.7-inches to 6.9-inches, and a new image gives us a good idea of how the current iPhone 15 Pro Max compares to what could be Apple's largest ever iPhone. The image above, posted on X by ZONEofTECH, shows a dummy model representing the ‌iPhone 16 Pro‌ Max alongside an actual iPhone 15 Pro Max. Dummy...
iOS 17

iOS 17.5 Bug May Also Resurface Deleted Photos on Wiped, Sold Devices

Friday May 17, 2024 12:24 pm PDT by
A bug in iOS 17.5 is apparently causing photos that have been deleted to reappear, and the issue seems to impact even iPhones and iPads that have been erased and sold off to other people. A Reddit user wiped an iPad following Apple's guidelines in September of 2023 before selling it off to a friend. That friend updated the iPad to iPadOS 17.5 this week, and began seeing the Reddit user's old ...
oled m4 ipad pro grainy display reports

OLED iPad Pro Users Report 'Grainy' Displays, But It May Not Be a Defect

Friday May 17, 2024 5:57 am PDT by
Some new M4 iPad Pro models are exhibiting a visible static grain pattern across the OLED display, according to several user reports on Reddit (1, 2, 3) and the MacRumors Forums. Image credit: MacRumors user bk215 Users who see the grain generally report that it is most noticeable in dark environments with the display set at a low to medium brightness while viewing content with gray or muted...
Delta Hands On Feature

iPhone Emulators on the App Store: Game Boy, N64, PS1, PSP, and More

Thursday May 16, 2024 12:45 pm PDT by
In April, Apple updated its guidelines to allow retro game emulators on the App Store, and several popular emulators have already been released. The emulators released so far allow iPhone users to play games released for older consoles from Nintendo, Sony, SEGA, Atari, and others. A list of some popular emulators available on the App Store so far follows. Released Delta Delta is...