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Apple Patches Actively Exploited WebKit Zero-Day Vulnerability 

Apple has released updates for macOS, iOS and Safari and they all include a WebKit patch for a zero-day vulnerability tracked as CVE-2023-23529.

New class of iOS and macOS vulnerabilities

Apple on Monday announced the release of updates for macOS, iOS and Safari, and they all include a WebKit patch for a new zero-day vulnerability tracked as CVE-2023-23529.

The zero-day, described as a type confusion issue, can be exploited for arbitrary code execution by getting the targeted user to access a malicious website. 

An anonymous researcher has been credited for reporting CVE-2023-23529 and no information has been made public on the attacks exploiting the vulnerability.

However, one of Apple’s advisories thanked Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School for its assistance. It’s unclear if this assistance was related to CVE-2023-23529, but if it was, the zero-day may have been exploited in attacks linked to mercenary spyware vendors, whose activities are often detailed by Citizen Lab. 

In addition to the zero-day, Apple’s latest macOS update, Ventura 13.2.1, patches a code execution issue in the kernel (CVE-2023-23514) reported by researchers at Google Project Zero and Pangu Lab, as well as a shortcuts-related flaw that can expose user data (CVE-2023-23522), reported by researchers of the Alibaba Group.

Apple does not mention any reports of exploitation associated with these two vulnerabilities. 

The iOS and iPadOS 16.3.1 updates also fix the CVE-2023-23514 kernel issue in addition to the zero-day. The latest Safari update, version 16.3.1, only fixes the zero-day flaw.

In many cases, zero-day vulnerabilities affecting Apple products are exploited by state-sponsored threat actors, typically working with spyware vendors. 

In response to these types of attacks, Apple last year announced Lockdown Mode, a feature that should significantly limit the ability to use sophisticated exploits against its customers. 

According to data from Google Project Zero, nine of the Apple product vulnerabilities whose existence came to light in 2022 have been exploited in attacks, including three that impact WebKit. 

Related: Apple Patches Exploited iOS Vulnerability in Old iPhones

Related: Apple Says WebKit Zero-Day Hitting iOS, macOS Devices

Related: Apple Patches WebKit Code Execution in iPhones, MacBooks

Related: Apple Patches Zero-Day Vulnerability Exploited Against iPhones

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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