Apple Issues Critical Security Patches for Actively Exploited Zero-Day Flaws
Just days after the release of emergency security updates to fix two zero-day vulnerabilities (exploited to deliver NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware), Apple urged users to update their devices with new security patches.
The iOS zero-day exploit chain was discovered by security researchers at Citizen Lab and Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG), while working with Egypt’s former Member of Parliament, Ahmed Eltantawy. The flaws, which can be found across Apple’s array of products, were actively being exploited by threat actors to target Eltantawy with Cytrox’s Predator spyware.
When disclosed to Apple, it assigned the following CVEs to the three identified vulnerabilities:
- CVE-2023-41991 – described as a ‘’certificate validation issue’’, an attacker with the help of a malicious app can use this to bypass signature validation. The Security Framework flaw was ‘’ actively exploited against versions of iOS before iOS 16.7,’’ revealed Apple.
- CVE-2023-41992 – A kernel flaw, which was addressed with improved checks, can be actively exploited by threat actors to escalate privileges.
- CVE-2023-41993 – found in the WebKit browser engine, the flaw was addressed with improved checks. A hacker can exploit this flaw to carry out arbitrary code execution, meaning deploy malware on a victim’s device. ‘’[..] this issue may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS before iOS 16.7,’’ the tech giant revealed.
On September 21, Apple issued patches to address these flaws in multiple products, including both older and newer models. Devices include iPad mini 5th generation and later, watchOS 9.6.3 & 10.0.1, Mac devices running macOS Ventura 13.6, Monterey 12.7, and iOS 16.7, 17.0.1.
Known for identifying and investigating spyware malware targeted at journalists, politicians, activists, among others, Citizen Lab has urged all Apple owners to update their devices with the issued patches. Moreover, they’ve advised users to activate Lockdown Mode on their devices.
‘’[..] we believe, and Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture team has confirmed to us, that Lockdown Mode blocks this particular attack.’’