MacBook Air hacked!!

March 30, 2008

MacBook Air

A team of security researchers has won $10,000 for hacking a MacBook Air in two minutes using an undisclosed Safari vulnerability.

IDG News Service is camped out at CanSecWest in lovely Vancouver, Canada, and has chronicled the exploits  of Charlie Miller, Jake Honoroff, and Mark Daniel of Independent Security Evaluators during the Pwn to Own contest sponsored by TippingPoint. The contest includes three laptops, running the most up to date and patched installations of MacOS X Leopard, Windows Vista, and Ubuntu Linux:

  • VAIO VGN-TZ37CN running Ubuntu 7.10
  • Fujitsu U810 running Vista Ultimate SP1
  • MacBook Air running OSX 10.5.2

The main purpose of this contest is to responsibly unearth new vulnerabilities within these systems so that the affected vendor(s) can address them.The team was able to gain control of a MacBook Air on the second day of the hacking competition, which pitted the Air against Windows Vista and Ubuntu machines.

No one was able to execute code on any of the systems on Wednesday, the first day of the contest, when hacks were limited to over-the-network techniques on the operating systems themselves. But on the second day, the rules changed to allow attacks delivered by tricking someone to visit a maliciously crafted Web site, or open an e-mail. Hackers were also allowed to target “default installed client-side applications,” such as browsers.

The team had attack code already set up on a Web site, and was able to gain access to the MacBook Air and retrieve a file after judges were “tricked” into visiting the site. According to the TippingPoint DVLabs blog, a newly discovered vulnerability in Safari was used to gain control of the Air.

The contest rules stipulated that winners immediately sign a nondisclosure agreement relating to their technique, so that the vulnerability could be disclosed to the vendor, and TippingPoint said Apple has been informed of the vulnerability.

Last year’s contest was won by exploiting a QuickTime vulnerability, which was patched by Apple in less than two weeks. As of the time I posted this, no one had gained control of the Vista or Ubuntu machines, but I’ll update later as the results come in over the rest of the afternoon.