Apple Pushes Automatic Mac Software Update to Remove Vulnerable Zoom Web Server

Earlier this week, a serious vulnerability with the Zoom video conferencing app for macOS was disclosed, with attackers potentially able to hijack users' webcams.

zoom logo
The vulnerability was particularly notable because Zoom had installed a hidden web server on users' computers in order to allow for automatic answering of incoming calls, and that web server was not only the weak point that could be exploited, but it also was not removed upon deletion of the app. As a result, users who had previously deleted Zoom might not even realize they were vulnerable to this potential attack.

After initially defending the decision to install a web server on users' machines to work around changes in Safari 12 that would have required users to click to accept incoming calls, Zoom later backtracked and released a patch to remove the web server from users' computers.

Apple has now taken things one step further and pushed out a silent macOS update that removes the web server, reports TechCrunch. The update is deployed automatically, so users don't have to manually apply it in order for it to take effect.

Although Zoom released a fixed app version on Tuesday, Apple said its actions will protect users both past and present from the undocumented web server vulnerability without affecting or hindering the functionality of the Zoom app itself.

The update will now prompt users if they want to open the app, whereas before it would open automatically.

Zoom told TechCrunch it was "happy to have worked with Apple on testing this update" and that it should resolve all issues with the web server.

In a blog post, Zoom says it will take further action this weekend by automatically having first-time users who select "Always turn off my video" default to having video off for all future meetings. In addition, Zoom will be improving its bug bounty program and security-related issue escalation process.

Tag: Zoom

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Top Rated Comments

Snownoob Avatar
64 months ago
Apple app aproval process fail.
Is it? I can't find the Zoom app in the Mac App Store. I think you have to download it from their website.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
64 months ago
Apple app aproval process fail.
Well considering the app isn’t on the Mac App Store and you have you go on Zoom’s website to download and install it, this point is invalid.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
64 months ago
Well considering the app isn’t on the Mac App Store and you have you go on Zoom’s website to download and install it, this point is invalid.
So, Apple can install an update (essentially any code) without user's approval or notification? Not good.
I'm not sure I'm comfortable with Apple pushing out silent updates. There should be an option to be notified about them (maybe there is and I'm not aware?). I do trust Apple, but I like to know what updates are coming my way.
I suggest you guys research XProtect. This has been on the Mac for many years and silently updates to prevent malware, like Zoom (that’s essentially what it is, no sugar coating it), from affecting user’s systems once it is found out. For legit developers, even third party, they can also revoke their certificate which means that most users won’t be able to open the app unless they change it to the most wide open setting, which I don’t believe is the default. Only shady companies don’t get signed certs through Apple. I guarantee you Apple threatened to revoke their certs which is why they had a sudden change of heart. Apple could have just nuked the app completely, and I think they have the right in their terms and conditions for the Xcode/macOS license agreement.

I love it when Apple does this. They keep developers in check, like they did recently with Facebook. They also have a protection mechanism built into iOS that can remotely wipe rogue apps off every person’s device in the world. They’re the only company with the balls to do it and the security and privacy mindset to pull it off. May security and privacy forever be their #1 goal. Seriously, bless those beautiful engineers. They’re far from perfect, but among the best there is.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
64 months ago
Yes. Well done Apple. Very well done.

This is a disaster for Zoom. They had one of the best brands in the comms space, and they are destroying it with this “feature”’ which makes Macs vulnerable and then trying to pass this off like it’s no big deal. It’s breathtaking how tone deaf they are.

It’s despicable, and Zoom better act fast before they are dead to enterprises. No CIO/CTO will risk their career because a vendor has a slightly easier user experience.

This is company destroying stupidity and Zoom better act while they still can. Otherwise, they will be a business school case study of what not to do in a crisis.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
buran-energia Avatar
64 months ago
Apple has now taken things one step further and pushed out a silent macOS update that removes the web server, reports TechCrunch ('https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/10/apple-silent-update-zoom-app/'). The update is deployed automatically, so users don't have to manually apply it in order for it to take effect.
So, Apple can install an update (essentially any code) without user's approval or notification? Not good.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mascots Avatar
64 months ago
So, Apple can install an update (essentially any code) without user's approval or notification? Not good.
This is absolutely not what XProtect is - what is updated is a list of application definitions that the previous quarantine system can use to prevent malicious software from running. There is literally no code being installed in this process.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)