Hackers Discover 55 Apple Vulnerabilities, Awarded Nearly $300,000 in Bounties [Updated]

A group of hackers has been awarded nearly $300,000 by Apple for discovering 55 vulnerabilities in the company's systems.

3

Sam Curry, Brett Buerhaus, Ben Sadeghipour, Samuel Erb, and Tanner Barnes spent three months hacking Apple platforms and services to discover a range of weaknesses. The 55 vulnerabilities the team discovered were of varying severity, with some being critical.

During our engagement, we found a variety of vulnerabilities in core portions of their infrastructure that would've allowed an attacker to fully compromise both customer and employee applications, launch a worm capable of automatically taking over a victim's iCloud account, retrieve source code for internal Apple projects, fully compromise an industrial control warehouse software used by Apple, and take over the sessions of Apple employees with the capability of accessing management tools and sensitive resources.

Apple apparently was swift to address the majority of the vulnerabilities, with some being resolved in as little as a few hours.

Overall, Apple was very responsive to our reports. The turn around for our more critical reports was only four hours between time of submission and time of remediation.

As part of Apple's Security Bounty Program, the group was able to receive considerable payments for some of their work. As of Sunday, October 4, they had received four payments totaling $51,500. This included $5,000 for disclosing the full name of iCloud users, $6,000 for finding IDOR vulnerabilities, $6,500 for access to internal corporate environments, and $34,000 for discovering system memory leaks containing customer data.

Since no-one really knew much about their bug bounty program, we were pretty much going into unchartered territory with such a large time investment. Apple has had an interesting history working with security researchers, but it appears that their vulnerability disclosure program is a massive step in the right direction to working with hackers in securing assets and allowing those interested to find and report vulnerabilities.

Apple has been actively investing in its bug bounty program since last year. Security researchers can now receive up to one million dollars per vulnerability depending on the nature and severity of the security flaw.

With the permission of Apple's security team, the group has published an extensive report which details a range of vulnerabilities and methods of locating and exploiting weaknesses. They also hinted that additional bounties may be on the way.

Update October 9: At the time of publication, the group reported that it had received $51,500 in bounties from Apple for four of the vulnerability reports it submitted. The group now says it has received 32 payments from Apple totaling $288,500.

Top Rated Comments

Expos of 1969 Avatar
21 months ago
That seems to be quite a low payment for finding 55 problems. Each guy made about $850/week.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ksec Avatar
21 months ago
As part of Apple's Security Bounty Program ('https://www.macrumors.com/2019/12/20/apple-launches-public-bug-bounty-program/'), the group was able to receive considerable payments for some of their work. As of Sunday, October 4, they had received four payments totaling $51,500.
MacRumors just redefined the word "considerable" in Cooperate America.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Cappy Avatar
21 months ago
These kinds of headlines slay me. "Over $50,000" you say.

The correct amount was $51,500. It would have been both shorter and more accurate to type the correct number.You don't even have the excuse of vagueness being necessitated by the need for brevity, since you actually type the number in full. You just go out of your way to use incorrect numbers so that you later need to correct yourself. Oh well.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adamdport Avatar
21 months ago
$50k split between 5 people over 3 months...that's the equivalent of $40k/yr for these guys. I guess it didn't say they were working 40 hours a week, or were full time on apple though.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
21 months ago

I smell lawsuits coming.
Why? Unless someone can prove these vulnerabilities were used, what’s the harm?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CrazyForCashews Avatar
21 months ago
I appreciate how quickly Apple paid them.

News like this will probably encourage other hackers to disclose any more vulnerabilities to Apple knowing that they'll be rewarded in a timely manner.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

apple store employees los angeles tower

Some Apple Store Employees in U.S. Reportedly Working to Unionize

Friday February 18, 2022 6:06 am PST by
The Washington Post today reports that employees at some Apple retail stores in the U.S. are quietly working to unionize. The report claims that groups of employees working for at least two stores are preparing to file paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board in the near future, and at least a half dozen more locations are said to be in earlier stages of the unionization process....
homekit showdown 2 thumb

iOS 15.2.1 and iPadOS 15.2.1 Address HomeKit Vulnerability

Wednesday January 12, 2022 10:31 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.2.1 and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor updates that include an important security fix for a known HomeKit vulnerability that was first discovered last year. According to Apple's security support document for the update, it addresses an issue that could cause a maliciously crafted HomeKit name to result in a denial of service, causing iPhones and iPads not to work. Apple...
mozilla firefox banner fixed

Firefox 95 Brings Security, Performance, and Efficiency Improvements to Mac

Friday December 10, 2021 2:32 am PST by
Mozilla has released Firefox 95, featuring a new version of its security sandboxing subsystem called RLBox, and additional performance and efficiency improvements for the macOS version of the web browser. According to the release notes, RLBox is a new technology that hardens Firefox against potential security vulnerabilities in third-party libraries. The sandbox subsystem works by...
iOS 15 General Feature Blue

Apple Releases iOS 15.3.1 and iPadOS 15.3.1 With Security Updates and Bug Fixes

Thursday February 10, 2022 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3.1 and iPadOS 15.3.1, two minor updates to the iOS and iPadOS operating systems released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3.1 come two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.3. The iOS 15.3.1 and iPadOS 15.3.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new...
apple logo us flag smooth

Apple to Attend White House Meeting to Discuss Security Risks of Open-Source Software

Thursday January 13, 2022 5:10 am PST by
Apple will be among several U.S. tech giants to attend a meeting at the White House today to discuss cybersecurity and possible security threats posed by open-source software, Reuters reports. The meeting will be held by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and will focus on "concerns around the security of open-source software and how it can be improved." The meeting was prompted by ...
powerdir exploit microsoft

Microsoft Discovered New 'Powerdir' macOS Vulnerability, Fixed in 12.1 Update

Monday January 10, 2022 9:17 am PST by
Microsoft's 365 Defender Research Team this morning published details on a new "Powerdir" macOS vulnerability that let an attacker bypass the Transparency, Consent, and Control technology to gain unauthorized access to protected data. Apple already addressed the CVE-2021-30970 vulnerability in the macOS Monterey 12.1 update that was released in December, so users who have updated to the...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple employees trio

Apple Giving Many U.S. Retail Employees Raises

Friday February 11, 2022 3:28 pm PST by
Apple is giving many of its U.S. retail employees raises ranging from two percent to 10 percent depending on location, reports Bloomberg. Salespeople, Genius Bar support staff, and some senior hourly workers are being granted pay increases. Apple is said to be boosting the pay of its retail employees because of inflation, the difficult labor market, and staff complaints about working...

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPad Pro USB C Feature Coral

Deals: Apple's iPad Pro Reaches Up to $449 Off in Amazon's Latest Sales

Wednesday May 25, 2022 10:09 am PDT by
Amazon is marking down a wide variety of 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models this week, with prices starting as low as $749.00 for the 11-inch tablet. You'll find the full list of sales below, all of which can be found on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep...
apple account card

Wallet App Now Supports Apple Account Cards on iOS 15.5

Wednesday May 25, 2022 5:01 pm PDT by
Apple appears to have recently updated the Wallet app to allow users to add an Apple Account Card, which displays the Apple credit balance associated with an Apple ID. If you receive an App Store or Apple Store gift card, for example, it is added to an Apple Account that was previously visible in the App Store and Apple Store apps. As of today, the Apple Account balance can also be added to...
iphone 13 pro max display bleen

iPhone 14 Max Reportedly Weeks Behind Schedule [Updated]

Thursday May 26, 2022 7:25 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Max is currently behind schedule by around three weeks, according to Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu. Yesterday, Nikkei Asia reported that at least one iPhone 14 model was three weeks behind schedule due to the impact of lockdowns on Apple's supply chains in China, but it was not clear which iPhone 14 model this related to. Now, Pu has clarified that the model...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
Apple Tap to Pay iPhone

Apple Stores Rolling Out iPhone-to-iPhone Contactless Payments Starting Today

Wednesday May 25, 2022 6:54 am PDT by
Apple in February unveiled a new "Tap to Pay on iPhone" feature that will allow compatible iPhones to accept payments via Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets, with no additional hardware required. Apple began testing the feature at its Apple Park Visitor Center earlier this month, and now Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has tweeted that the feature will begin...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5.1 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Wednesday May 25, 2022 9:42 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5.1, a minor update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5.1 comes about 10 days after the launch of tvOS 15.5. tvOS 15.5.1 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌‌‌ owners who have automatic software updates...