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ABCDKERNELPANIC: Unicode vs. Apple Inc.

Posted August 29, 2013    BeyondTrust Research Team

Yesterday, Russian researchers publicly disclosed the presence of a denial of service vulnerability affecting OS X 10.8 and iOS 6. OS X 10.9 Mavericks and iOS 7 are unaffected. So what’s the big deal with this particular denial of service vulnerability? It’s remotely exploitable and is trivial to trigger. Stringing together a series of Unicode characters, Arabic \u062E\u0337\u0334\u0310\u062E, and making a target display the characters triggers the vulnerability, causing applications to crash immediately.

Malicious Unicode

Malicious Unicode

Third party applications such as Chrome and Twitter (on both iOS and OS X), as well as iOS built-in applications like Messages, crash when displaying the above Unicode. Attackers may even create malicious SSIDs and broadcast them in public places. When a target user goes to join a WiFi network, turn on WiFi, or check their WiFi, the malicious SSID may be rendered by Core Text, a text and font layout and handling mechanism within OS X and iOS. The resulting segmentation fault in Core Text may cause instability in OS X, or even make an iOS device reboot.

Social media services have seen users posting, tweeting, and sharing the malicious Unicode string, prompting Facebook to ban the string from future posts. Having your Twitter feed blow up a Chrome tab isn’t the end of the world, but certainly worth mentioning as curious members of the public and script-kiddies everywhere will be having fun with this until a fix is released.

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Additional articles

Are Your Data Security Efforts Focused in the Right Area?

Posted January 28, 2015    Scott Lang

Vormetric Data Security recently released an insider threat report, with research conducted by HarrisPoll and analyzed by Ovum. Based on the survey responses, it is apparent that there is still a great deal of insecurity over data. However, the results also show that there may be misplaced investments to address those insecurities. I will explain…

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GHOST Vulnerability…Scary Indeed

Posted January 28, 2015    BeyondTrust Research Team

A vulnerability discovered by Qualys security researchers has surfaced within the GNU C Library that affects virtually all Linux operating systems. The vulnerability lies within the various gethostbyname*() functions and, as such, has been dubbed “GHOST.” GHOST is particularly nasty considering remote, arbitrary code execution can be achieved. In an effort to avoid taxing DNS lookups, glibc developers introduced…

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Your New Years Resolution: Controlling Privileged Users

Posted January 27, 2015    Dave Shackleford

Is 2015 the year you get a better handle on security? The news last year was grim – so much so, in fact, that many in the information security community despaired a bit. Really, the end-of-the-year infosec cocktail parties were a bit glum. OK, let’s be honest, infosec cocktail parties are usually not that wild…

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