NewsMay 18, 2017 @ 11:26 AM

Apple Patch Update Fixes Bugs Discovered by Pwn2Own Contestants

Two months after security researchers uncovered five major vulnerabilities in Apple products at the Pwn2Own contest, the technology giant released patches to address more than 100 bugs across MacOS, Safari and other affected products.

According to SecurityWeek, the Apple patch update released on May 17 addressed 37 vulnerabilities, four of which were uncovered by Pwn2Own contestants. These discoveries included vulnerabilities that could have allowed cybercriminals to break into a computer running Mac OS Sierra 10.12.5. Once inside, attackers could potentially visit websites, execute code, steal credentials and more.

The patches fixed scores of other bugs as well, including some specific to Safari 10.1.1.

Bobbing for Bad Apples

This year’s Pwn2Own, a hacking contest that takes place every year at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, awarded cash prizes for discovering security issues on major platforms. As MacRumors reported at the time, contestants were able to interfere with the touch bar on a Mac and scroll through messages by exploiting a vulnerability Apple’s Safari browser. Apple was notified of the discovery immediately following the contest.

The Pwn2Own contest is run as part of the Zero Day Initiative, which advised Apple users to apply the patches quickly to help avoid security attacks such as the WannaCry outbreak that recently made international headlines. In total, the contest identified 35 percent of the vulnerabilities Apple patched, according to the Zero Day Initiative.

Inside the Apple Patch Update

A more recent bug addressed through Apple’s security update, identified by a researcher at Synack, could have been considered a zero-day issue, Threatpost reported. If a computer had file access auditing turned on, cybercriminals could have used an info kernel leak to read restricted memory.

As extensive as the patches appear, though, Apple actually addressed 233 vulnerabilities across MacOS, Safari and iOS in its previous update.

Of course, Apple is also covering bugs that didn’t come up at Pwn2Own. Infosecurity Magazine noted that patches are available for potential problems with iOS 10.3.2, including sandbox escapes related to the kernel, numerous WebKit vulnerabilities in watchOS and tvOS, and more.

Although Apple hasn’t disclosed whether any of these bugs are being exploited in the wild, it’s probably best to make sure the patches are deployed as quickly as possible.

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Shane Schick tells stories that help people create value with information technology. He is an editor-at-large with IT World Canada, the editor of Allstream's expertIP online community and the editor of a U.S. magazine about mobile apps called FierceDeveloper. Shane was previously IT World Canada's Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), leading a digital-first strategy that included a transition from print publications to online portals and magazines. Shane regularly speaks to CIOs and IT managers at events across Canada about how they can contribute to organizational success, and comments on technology trends as a guest on CBC, BNN, CTV and other programs. A former columnist with the Globe and Mail and a technology columnist with Yahoo Canada, Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, where he has also served as a judge.