Apple patches Pwn2Own, Comodo hack bugs

Updates iOS and Mac OS X to plug holes in iPhone, iPad, Safari, Mac OS X, iPod Touch

Apple today patched bugs in iOS and Safari used at last month's Pwn2Own hacking contest by three teams of researchers who collectively earned $45,000 for their work.

In an iOS update to version 4.3.2, Apple patched a bug exploited by four-time Pwn2Own winner Charlie Miller and his research partner Dion Blazakis, who hacked an iPhone at Pwn2Own.

Apple had fixed the same flaw in Mac OS X on March 21, but had left iOS -- the operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch -- unprotected until today.

The same update also patched a vulnerability in WebKit -- the browser engine that powers Safari on Mac OS X and iOS, and the browser on BlackBerry devices -- that was exploited by a trio of researchers to hack a BlackBerry. iOS 4.3.2 also closed a second WebKit hole that was used by a team from the French security company Vupen to breach Safari on a MacBook Air.

Apple quashed the two WebKit bugs in Safari with a separate update that brought Apple's browser to version 5.0.5.

A third update addressed a March theft of digital certificates used to authenticate sites owned by some of the Web's biggest name, including Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Skype and Yahoo.

On March 15, attackers used a valid username and password to obtain nine SSL certificates -- which essentially prove that a site is what it says it is -- from a Comodo certificate reseller. Comodo claimed that the hack originated in Iran and may have been state-sponsored; later, an Iranian hacker claimed responsibility, but denied he was acting on orders from his country's government.

"Safari relies on the certificate store of the host operating system to determine if an SSL server certificate is trustworthy," Apple said in an advisory for an update to Mac OS X. "For Mac OS X systems, this issue is addressed with Security Update 2011-002. For iOS, this issue is addressed with iOS 4.3.2 and iOS 4.2.7."

iOS 4.2.7 is aimed at iPhone 4s connected to Verizon's mobile network.

Users running Safari on Windows must turn to Microsoft for a patch, Apple said.

Microsoft issued Comodo-hack patches for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 on March 23.

Mac users can download the Safari and OS X updates from the Apple site, or install them using the operating system's integrated update service. iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users must connect their devices to a Mac or PC equipped with Apple's iTunes music software.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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