Yikes: Apple Patches 3 New Zero-Day Exploits for iOS, MacOS

Apple today released a fix for a trio of iOS vulernabilities that hackers may already be exploiting.

Apple issued emergency patches for iOS 16 and the newly launched iOS 17, as well as iPadOS, Safari, watchOS and macOS Ventura and Monterey. 

Although details are thin, the vulnerabilities were discovered by two security researchers, according to Apple. The first, Bill Marczak, works for Citizen Lab, a watchdog group that investigates spyware attacks from commercial surveillance companies. The other, Maddie Stone, is a researcher at Google’s Threat Analysis Group, which is dedicated to protecting users from state-sponsored hackers and commercial spyware dealers. 

Google and Citizen Lab didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. But it’s likely the two security researchers uncovered the vulnerabilities while investigating an attack on user devices. The fixes also come two weeks after Citizen Lab discovered a new iOS attack allegedly from notorious spyware dealer NSO Group that infected a device belonging to an employee at a “Washington DC-based civil society organization.”  

The first vulnerability, CVE-2023-41993, involves Webkit, the browser engine for Safari. The researchers discovered the engine can be manipulated to execute rogue computer code if it processes certain web content. Hence, the vulnerability could be paired with a malicious message or website to potentially trigger an iPhone to download malware

The second vulnerability, CVE-2023-41992, can affect iOS’s kernel, the core part of the operating system. Exploiting this bug can help an attacker elevate their privileges over the OS, enabling them to install programs or gain access to sensitive data. 

Meanwhile, the third vulnerability, CVE-2023-41991, can allow a malicious app to potentially “bypass signature validation,” enabling an attacker to circumvent the security check Apple uses to verify an iOS app is safe and legitimate. 

Recommended by Our Editors

All three vulnerabilities also affect macOS Ventura, with Apple warning, “additional CVE entries coming soon,” a sign that other exploits have been found. 

To update an iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update. The device can also…