Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Cyberwarfare

macOS Zero-Day Exploited to Deliver Malware to Users in Hong Kong

Google on Thursday shared details about a recent attack that exploited a zero-day vulnerability in macOS to deliver malware to users in Hong Kong.

Google on Thursday shared details about a recent attack that exploited a zero-day vulnerability in macOS to deliver malware to users in Hong Kong.

According to Google, the attack, discovered in late August, was likely conducted by a well-resourced state-sponsored threat group which, based on the quality of their code, had access to their own software engineering team.

While Google has not named any country, users in Hong Kong have been typically targeted by threat actors sponsored by China.

The watering hole involved the websites of a media outlet and an important pro-democracy labor and political group in Hong Kong. The sites hosted two iframes that served iOS and macOS exploits.

In the case of the iOS exploit, Google researchers could not obtain the full exploit chain, but they did discover that it involved a framework based on the Ironsquirrel browser exploit delivery project and exploitation of an older remote code execution vulnerability tracked as CVE-2019-8506.

The macOS exploit, however, leveraged a remote code execution vulnerability in WebKit — tracked as CVE-2021-1789 and patched by Apple in January — and a privilege escalation flaw that was only patched by Apple on September 23, roughly one month after Google spotted the attack.

When it patched the zero-day, tracked as CVE-2021-30869, Apple warned that it had been exploited in attacks. The security hole is a type confusion in XNU, the OS kernel used by both iOS and macOS, and it can be exploited to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges.

When Google analyzed the macOS exploits, a parameter set up by the attackers to record the number of exploitation attempts had a value of roughly 200.

The Mac malware delivered in the attack can capture keystrokes, take screenshots, fingerprint compromised devices, upload and download files, execute terminal commands, and record audio.

Security researcher Patrick Wardle has published a blog post detailing the malware, which he has named OSX.CDDS — the name CDDS comes from a string format related to the malware’s features.

The malware sample analyzed by Wardle had not been detected by any of the antivirus engines on the VirusTotal malware analysis service.

Related: Apple Ships Urgent Patch for FORCEDENTRY Zero-Days

Related: Apple Warns of New Zero-Day Attacks on iOS, macOS

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.

Click to comment

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cyberwarfare

Websites of German airports, administration bodies and banks were hit by DDoS attacks attributed to Russian hacker group Killnet

Malware & Threats

Microsoft plans to improve the protection of Office users by blocking XLL add-ins from the internet.

Cloud Security

VMware vRealize Log Insight vulnerability allows an unauthenticated attacker to take full control of a target system.

Mobile & Wireless

Technical details published for an Arm Mali GPU flaw leading to arbitrary kernel code execution and root on Pixel 6.

Mobile & Wireless

Apple rolled out iOS 16.3 and macOS Ventura 13.2 to cover serious security vulnerabilities.

Mobile & Wireless

Apple’s iOS 12.5.7 update patches CVE-2022-42856, an actively exploited vulnerability, in old iPhones and iPads.

Vulnerabilities

Security researchers have observed an uptick in attacks targeting CVE-2021-35394, an RCE vulnerability in Realtek Jungle SDK.

Vulnerabilities

Google has awarded more than $25,000 to the researchers who reported the vulnerabilities patched with the release of the latest Chrome update.