Apple Apologizes to Researcher for Ignoring iOS Vulnerabilities, Says It's 'Still Investigating'

Last week, security researcher Denis Tokarev made several zero-day iOS vulnerabilities public after he said that Apple had ignored his reports and had failed to fix the issues for several months.

iPhone 13 Security
Tokarev today told Motherboard that Apple got in touch after he went public with his complaints and after they saw significant media attention. In an email, Apple apologized for the contact delay and said that it is "still investigating" the issues.

"We saw your blog post regarding this issue and your other reports. We apologize for the delay in responding to you," an Apple employee wrote. "We want to let you know that we are still investigating these issues and how we can address them to protect customers. Thank you again for taking the time to report these issues to us, we appreciate your assistance. Please let us know if you have any questions."

Apple did fix one of the vulnerabilities in iOS 14.7, but did not provide Tokarev with credit. Three others remain unaddressed, including a Game Center bug that allegedly allows any app installed from the App Store to access full Apple ID email and name, ‌Apple ID‌ authentication tokens, lists of contacts, and some attachments.

Details on all of the zero-day vulnerabilities have been published publicly by Tokarev, which may prompt Apple to fix them faster.

Tokarev first contacted Apple about these bugs between March 10 and May 4, so Apple has had months to issue patches, but it's worth noting that several security researchers and Tokarev himself have confirmed that the bugs are not highly critical as exploiting them would require a malicious app to first receive ‌App Store‌ approval.

Still, experts have criticized Apple's response and its bug bounty program. Cybersecurity expert Katie Moussouris told Motherboard that Apple's handling of the process is "not normal and should not be considered normal," while researcher Nicholas Ptacek said that Apple's response comes across as a "reaction to bad press."

Earlier this month, The Washington Post interviewed more than two dozen security researchers to expose the flaws in Apple's bug bounty program. Researchers said that Apple is slow to fix bugs and doesn't always pay out what's owed, leading researchers to be unhappy with Apple's program.

At the time, Apple's Head of Security Engineering and Architecture, Ivan Krstić, said that Apple is "planning to introduce new rewards for researchers" to expand participation, and that Apple is working toward offering new and even better research tools.

Top Rated Comments

Realityck Avatar
3 weeks ago
No question that Apple needs to greatly improve on their interaction with bug bounty participants.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
code-m Avatar
3 weeks ago
Stop creating more issues with your users with CSAM and patch the existing vulnerabilities. I feel CSAM is just another hole to be exploited in the future.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Dee Avatar
3 weeks ago
So, to get Apples attention these days you have to use the ‘go to the media whipping belt’.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MathersMahmood Avatar
3 weeks ago
My gosh not a good week for Tim Apple is it.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple_Robert Avatar
3 weeks ago
Looks like Apple was attempting some damage control. No excuse for Apple ignoring someone pointing out important vulnerabilities in the OS.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scheinderrob Avatar
3 weeks ago
apple has one of, if not the worst bounty programs i've ever seen. i wonder how many vulnerabilities are being sold on the dark web because apple is too cheap. and i don't even blame the hackers. finding these takes a lot of time and skill.

i've been out of it for a while now but untethered jailbreaks used to be worth a million. probably more now.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iPhone 13 Security

Researcher Says Apple Ignored Three Zero-Day Security Vulnerabilities Still Present in iOS 15

Friday September 24, 2021 10:42 am PDT by
In 2019, Apple opened its Security Bounty Program to the public, offering payouts up to $1 million to researchers who share critical iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS security vulnerabilities with Apple, including the techniques used to exploit them. The program is designed to help Apple keep its software platforms as safe as possible. In the time since, reports have surfaced indicating...
apple devices security bug bounty mac iphone ipad

Security Researchers Unhappy With Apple's Bug Bounty Program

Thursday September 9, 2021 10:00 am PDT by
Apple offers a bug bounty program that's designed to pay security researchers for discovering and reporting critical bugs in Apple operating systems, but researchers are not happy with how it operates or Apple's payouts in comparison to other major tech companies, reports The Washington Post. In interviews with more than two dozen security researchers, The Washington Post collected a number...
f1618938547

AirTag 'Lost Mode' Vulnerability Can Redirect Users to Malicious Websites

Tuesday September 28, 2021 3:47 pm PDT by
The AirTag feature that allows anyone with a smartphone to scan a lost AirTag to locate the contact information of the owner can be abused for phishing scams, according to a new report shared by KrebsOnSecurity. When an AirTag is set in Lost Mode, it generates a URL for https://found.apple.com and it lets the AirTag owner enter a contact phone number or email address. Anyone who scans that...
corellium

Apple Appeals Corellium Copyright Lawsuit Loss After Settling Other Claims

Tuesday August 17, 2021 7:23 pm PDT by
Back in December, Apple lost a copyright lawsuit against security research company Corellium, and today, Apple filed an appeal in that case, reports Reuters. The judge in the copyright case determined that Corellium was operating under fair use terms and that its use of iOS was permissible, throwing out several of Apple's claims. For those unfamiliar with Corellium, the software is designed...
corellium

Apple and Corellium Agree on Settlement to Bring Lawsuit to an End

Tuesday August 10, 2021 11:36 pm PDT by
Apple this week dropped its long-standing lawsuit against Corellium, the security research company that provides security researchers with a replica of the iOS operating system, allowing them to locate possible security exploits within Apple's mobile operating system, The Washington Post reports. Apple filed a lawsuit against Corellium in 2019, claiming the security company was infringing...
Child Safety Feature Purple

Apple's Proposed Phone-Scanning Child Safety Features 'Invasive, Ineffective, and Dangerous,' Say Cybersecurity Researchers in New Study

Friday October 15, 2021 12:23 am PDT by
More than a dozen prominent cybersecurity experts hit out at Apple on Thursday for relying on "dangerous technology" in its controversial plan to detect child sexual abuse images on iPhones (via The New York Times). The damning criticism came in a new 46-page study by researchers that looked at plans by Apple and the European Union to monitor people's phones for illicit material, and called...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Apple Releases iOS 15.0.2 With Messages Photo Bug Fix, Security Update and More

Monday October 11, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.0.2, the second update to the iOS 15 operating system that was released in September. iOS 15.0.2 comes a week and a half after the launch of iOS 15.0.1, a bug fix update. The iOS 15.0.2 update 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 software, go to Settings > General >...
apple pay express transit london

Security Experts Warn of Apple Pay Express Transit Hack That Enables Large Unauthorized Visa Payments From Locked iPhones

Thursday September 30, 2021 12:14 am PDT by
Researchers in the U.K. have demonstrated how large unauthorized contactless payments can be made on locked iPhones by exploiting Apple Pay's Express Transit feature when set up with Visa. Express Transit is an Apple Pay feature that allows for tap-and-go payment at ticket barriers, eliminating the need to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. The device does not need to be...
iOS 15 General Feature Red ORange

iOS 15 Suffering From Several Bugs as Adoption Rises to Nearly 20%

Thursday September 30, 2021 9:02 am PDT by
iOS 15 adoption has reached an estimated 19.3% since the software update was released September 20, according to mobile analytics company Mixpanel. Mixpanel measures iOS adoption based on visits to websites and apps that use its mobile analytics SDKs, so the data is not official. Apple has yet to share iOS 15 adoption stats, having last reported an 85% adoption rate for iOS 14 back in June. ...
appleprivacyad

Corellium Launching New Initiative to Hold Apple Accountable Over CSAM Detection Security and Privacy Claims

Tuesday August 17, 2021 1:35 am PDT by
Security research firm Corellium this week announced it is launching a new initiative that will "support independent public research into the security and privacy of mobile applications," and one of the initiative's first projects will be Apple's recently announced CSAM detection plans. Since its announcement earlier this month, Apple's plan to scan iPhone users' photo libraries for CSAM or...