2 min read

ForcedEntry Exploit Is the Ultimate Cyberweapon, Google Researchers Say

Filip TRUȚĂ

December 21, 2021

Ad One product to protect all your devices, without slowing them down.
Free 90-day trial
ForcedEntry Exploit Is the Ultimate Cyberweapon, Google Researchers Say

Google researchers have described the exploit leveraged by NSO Group’s Pegasus as “a weapon against which there is no defense.” The team offers the first in-depth look at how the ForcedEntry exploit leveraged by Pegasus spyware can compromise an iPhone with no involvement from the victim.

One of the most technically sophisticated exploits out there, ForcedEntry was originally discovered by Citizen Lab’s Bill Marczak. The vulnerability behind, tracked as CVE-2021-30860, has been patched since the release of iOS 14.8 on Sept. 13. However, it also exists in macOS versions prior to Big Sur 11.6, macOS Catalina prior to Security Update 2021-005, and watchOS versions prior to 7.6.2.

“NSO is offering their clients zero-click exploitation technology, where even very technically savvy targets who might not click a phishing link are completely unaware they are being targeted,” according to Project Zero. “In the zero-click scenario no user interaction is required. Meaning, the attacker doesn't need to send phishing messages; the exploit just works silently in the background. Short of not using a device, there is no way to prevent exploitation by a zero-click exploit; it's a weapon against which there is no defense.”

The team explains that the initial entry point is the iOS SMS stock app, known as iMessage. Anyone can become a target so long as the attacker has your phone number or Apple ID username.

The analysis explains in depth how ForcedEntry uses PDFs disguised as GIFs to inject JBIG2-encoded data and provoke an integer overflow in Apple's CoreGraphics system, circumventing the "BlastDoor" sandbox defenses (introduced in iOS 14 to patch a similar exploit).

The team credit both Citizen Lab – for sharing a sample of the ForcedEntry exploit – and Apple’s Security Engineering and Architecture (SEAR) group, for helping with the technical side of the analysis.

Apple this month hit Pegasus-maker NSO Group with a lawsuit alleging that the Israeli company enabled extensive state-sponsored hacking of its iOS devices.

The Cupertino-based company stressed at the time that, while Pegasus continues to evolve, there is no evidence of successful remote attacks against devices running iOS 15 or newer versions of the iPhone operating system.

Because of the high-exploitability of CVE-2021-30860, Apple device owners are urged to install the patched releases of iOS, macOS and watchOS if they haven’t done so already.

tags


Author



Right now

Top posts

Threat actors impersonate Canadian gas retailer to deliver malicious OneNote phishing campaign, Bitdefender Labs warns

Threat actors impersonate Canadian gas retailer to deliver malicious OneNote phishing campaign, Bitdefender Labs warns

January 26, 2023

2 min read
Spammers phish eager vacationers with travel-themed lures, Bitdefender Antispam Lab warns

Spammers phish eager vacationers with travel-themed lures, Bitdefender Antispam Lab warns

January 19, 2023

4 min read
Enhance your cyber resilience and privacy on Computer Security Day in four easy steps

Enhance your cyber resilience and privacy on Computer Security Day in four easy steps

November 29, 2022

2 min read
How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

How to monitor your online privacy during your Thanksgiving trip

November 22, 2022

3 min read
Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

Just your yearly dose of Black Friday spam: Cybercrooks get ahead of the game to steal shoppers’ info

November 16, 2022

6 min read
Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

Bitdefender VPN in 2022: the new, the improved, and the soon-to-be

November 14, 2022

5 min read

FOLLOW US ON

SOCIAL MEDIA


You might also like

Meta Pays Out Bounties for Account Takeover and Two-Factor Authentication Bypass Exploits Meta Pays Out Bounties for Account Takeover and Two-Factor Authentication Bypass Exploits
Silviu STAHIE

January 31, 2023

1 min read
Hackers steal 10 million customer details from JD Sports Hackers steal 10 million customer details from JD Sports
Graham CLULEY

January 30, 2023

2 min read
North Korean Hackers Tried to Launder $100 Million in Crypto Stolen in 2022 North Korean Hackers Tried to Launder $100 Million in Crypto Stolen in 2022
Silviu STAHIE

January 25, 2023

1 min read