Apple Paid Hacker $75,000 for Uncovering Zero-Day Camera Exploits in Safari

Apple paid out $75,000 to a hacker for identifying multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in its software, some of which could be used to hijack the camera on a MacBook or an iPhone, according to Forbes.

ipadprocamerabumps
A zero-day vulnerability refers to a security hole in software that is unknown to the software developer and the public, although it may already be known by attackers who are quietly exploiting it.

Security researcher Ryan Pickren reportedly discovered the vulnerabilities in Safari after he decided to "hammer the browser with obscure corner cases" until it started showing weird behavior.

The bug hunter found seven exploits in all. The vulnerabilities involved the way that Safari parsed Uniform Resource Identifiers, managed web origins and initialized secure contexts, and three of them allowed him to get access to the camera by tricking the user to visit a malicious website.

"A bug like this shows why users should never feel totally confident that their camera is secure," Pickren said, "regardless of operating system or manufacturer."

Pickren reported his research through Apple's Bug Bounty Program in December 2019. Apple validated all seven bugs immediately and shipped a fix for the camera kill chain a few weeks later. The camera exploit was patched in Safari 13.0.5, released January 28. The remaining zero-day vulnerabilities, which Apple judged to be less severe, were patched in Safari 13.1, released on March 24.

Apple opened its bug bounty program to all security researchers in December 2019. Prior to that, Apple's bug bounty program was invitation-based and non-iOS devices were not included. Apple also increased the maximum size of the bounty from $200,000 per exploit to $1 million depending on the nature of the security flaw.

When submitting reports, researchers must include a detailed description of the issue, an explanation of the state of the system when the exploit works, and enough information for Apple to reliably reproduce the issue.

This year, Apple plans to provide vetted and trusted security researchers and hackers with "dev" iPhones, or special iPhones that provide deeper access to the underlying software and operating system that will make it easier for vulnerabilities to be discovered.

These iPhones are being provided as part of Apple's forthcoming iOS Security Research Device Program, which aims to encourage additional security researchers to disclose vulnerabilities, ultimately leading to more secure devices for consumers.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Report: These 10 New AI Features Are Coming in iOS 18

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:57 pm PDT by
iOS 18 and macOS 15 will offer an array of new AI features such as auto-generated emojis, suggested replies to emails and messages, and more, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. A significant portion of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is expected to focus on AI features. Writing his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that Apple's AI strategy emphasizes providing...
new best buy blue

Best Buy's Memorial Day Sale Has Record Low Prices on iPads, MacBooks, and Much More

Friday May 24, 2024 7:12 am PDT by
Best Buy today kicked off its Memorial Day weekend sale, and it has some of the best prices we've tracked in weeks on iPads and MacBooks. Specifically, you'll find record low prices on the 5th generation iPad Air, iPad mini 6, M2 MacBook Air, and M3 MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment,...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

Gurman: iOS 18 Will Allow Users to Recolor App Icons and Place Them Anywhere

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:22 pm PDT by
Apple's iOS 18 update will introduce new features for further customizing the iPhone's home screen, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman claimed that Apple will allow users to change the color of app icons in iOS 18. For example, "you can make all your social icons blue or finance-related ones green." This kind of home screen...
Apple iPhone 14 color lineup feature

Apple Now Selling Refurbished iPhone 14 Models

Friday May 24, 2024 11:15 am PDT by
Apple today added refurbished iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max devices to its online store for refurbished products, offering the prior-generation iPhones at a discount for the first time since their 2022 launch. The iPhone 14 is available starting at $619, the iPhone 14 Pro is available starting at $759, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is available starting at $849. ...
top stories 25may2024

Top Stories: iOS 17.5.1 Fixes Concerning Photos Bug, All-New iPhone 17 Model Rumored, and More

Saturday May 25, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
It's been quite a week of Apple news and rumors, ranging from a concerning bug with deleted photos reappearing on users' devices to hot rumors about a new high-end iPhone model for 2025 and a MacBook with a foldable screen coming as soon as 2026. Other news and rumors this week included fresh expectations for iOS 18 features and new headphones from Sonos to compete head-to-head with AirPods...

Top Rated Comments

Skeith Avatar
54 months ago
Good Apple.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Justanotherfanboy Avatar
54 months ago

The iPhone needs a camera light hardwired to the camera itself just like the Mac so that exploits like this would at least be noticeable.

So only $75,000 for an exploit that can allow remotely accessing the camera on the Mac or iPhone? Then what in the hell is a $1,000,000 bounty for?
Remote root access, allowing an attacker complete takeover of the system, including deleting the admin account, changing password, etc.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Oak Avatar
54 months ago
Considering the median US income is around $60k ... $75k is more than a year's work for most Americans. I definitely would not complain.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tridley68 Avatar
54 months ago
$75000 sounds a little light he should have held out for more.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacBH928 Avatar
54 months ago
cameras and microphones should have physical disconnection
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JosephAW Avatar
54 months ago
I was just saying this about bandaids and electrical tape on cameras in the other forum post about the mic.

If you can't update your safari because Apple EOL and obsoleted your devices then this is the only work around.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)