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U.K.-based researcher claims responsibility for Apple Developer Center problems

Steve Ragan | July 24, 2013
Ibrahim Baliç says he was just searching for bugs and now Apple's Developer Center portal is down.

"... today I'm reading news saying that they have been attacked and hacked. In some of the media news I watch/read that whether legal authorities were involved in its investigation of the hack. I'm not feeling very happy with what I read and a bit irritated, as I did not done this research to harm or damage. I didn't attempt to publish or have not shared this situation with anybody else. [sic]"

It's unknown if Baliç's claims are legitimate. Based on details provided in a video by him (which is now set to private on YouTube), it would appear that he discovered a bug of some kind. But Apple has yet to confirm this information.

"While this breach may have come from an individual that does not intend to exploit the information, it reveals that the site was indeed vulnerable and the possibility that others may have access to the same data remains," Michael Sutton, the VP of Security Research for Zscaler said in a statement to CSO.

"Access to Apple developer accounts would be a powerful tool for an attacker as that would allow for uploading potentially malicious applications on behalf of the compromised developer, although the apps would still need to get through the standard vetting process."

In addition, Sutton added, the developer IDs and, names, and email addresses could be used in social engineering attacks, assuming others accessed the vulnerabilities before Baliç discovered them. Moreover, this incident happened just as developers are preparing applications for iOS 7, slated for release this fall.

Baliç seems to be making the attempt to distance himself from potential legal troubles with his statements that he intended no harm. However, in the video, he clearly shows personal information belonging to non-Apple employees, such as full names and in some cases corporate email addresses. Such a disclosure may come back to haunt him.

"As Ibrahim has not publicly disclosed the vulnerabilities that he discovered, Apple my not pursue any legal action (no harm no foul). If Ibrahim does publicly disclose them we may be looking at a different ballgame," explained Peter Arzamendi, a Senior Security Consultant for Rapid7.

"The issues with disclosing a vulnerability, and the ramifications of doing so, is a struggle security researchers deal with on a day-to-day basis. As laws become more restrictive, we may see less beneficial security research being conducted; this will hinder the development of secure products and leave the user community vulnerable to attack. Effectively you're impeding responsible researches from helping people to understand how they are at risk, and enabling attackers to continue to take advantage of bugs in secrecy."

 

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