Second HTTPS snooping flaw breaks security for thousands of iOS apps

Hackers can exploit the vulnerability to launch man-in-the-middle attacks and decrypt traffic from the affected apps

Attackers can potentially snoop on the encrypted traffic of over 25,000 iOS applications due to a vulnerability in a popular open-source networking library.

The vulnerability stems from a failure to validate the domain names of digital certificates in AFNetworking, a library used by a large number of iOS and Mac OS X app developers to implement Web communications -- including those over HTTPS (HTTP with SSL/TLS encryption).

The flaw allows attackers in a position to intercept HTTPS traffic between a vulnerable application and a Web service to decrypt it by presenting the application with a digital certificate for a different domain name. Such man-in-the-middle attacks can be launched over insecure wireless networks, by hacking into routers or through other methods.

According to a company called SourceDNA, which tracks the use of third-party components in mobile apps, more than 25,000 iOS applications are potentially vulnerable because they use AFNetworking 2.5.2 or older versions.

The vulnerability was fixed in AFNetworking 2.5.3, released on April 20.

Applications that have certificate pinning turned on are not vulnerable, but this mechanism is only used by a small number of developers, SourceDNA said Friday in a blog post.

One interesting aspect of this flaw is that it was reported to the AFNetworking developers on March 27, one day after a different flaw that allowed HTTPS snooping was addressed in AFNetworking 2.5.2.

That vulnerability only existed in AFNetworking 2.5.1, released on Feb. 9, and it ended up affecting 1,000 of the over 100,000 iOS apps that use AFNetworking. The new flaw renders apps that use older versions of the library vulnerable as well, as long as they rely on AFNetworking for establishing HTTPS connections to Web servers.

SourceDNA set up an online service called Searchlight that can be used by users to manually check if the iOS apps installed on their devices are vulnerable. The service shows that apps from large developers like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google are potentially affected by the AFNetworking flaws.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags patchesGoogleMicrosoftsecuritymobile securityencryptionExploits / vulnerabilitiesSourceDNAprivacyYahoo

More about GoogleMicrosoftYahoo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place