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.

Top Rated Comments

Skeith Avatar
24 months ago
Good Apple.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Justanotherfanboy Avatar
24 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
24 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
24 months ago
$75000 sounds a little light he should have held out for more.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacBH928 Avatar
24 months ago
cameras and microphones should have physical disconnection
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JosephAW Avatar
24 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)

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
top stories 2022jan22

Top Stories: Spring Apple Event Rumors, Apple Opposes Sideloading, and More

Saturday January 22, 2022 6:00 am PST by
As we roll into the latter half of January, we're starting to hear more about a potential spring Apple event, which is likely to take place in March or April. There are a number of potential announcements on deck, so an event would be a good opportunity for Apple to get them all out there. We've also been going back and forth on some iPhone 14 rumors, and we've taken a look at a number of...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...