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Ziphone creator discovers iPhone crash bug

updated 06:10 pm EST, Mon November 3, 2008

iPhone crash bug spotted

Piergiorgio Zambrini -- creator of the iPhone jailbreaking tool Ziphone -- claims to have found a bug that can crash the phone along with a variety of other Apple devices, according to Forbes. The bug exists in the audio portion of Apple's video format, and can be exploited to crash the system when attempting to play a video file containing malicious code. The vulnerable code library is common to Apple operating systems and several Linux systems.

Forbes has confirmed the effect on the iPhone 3G, while Zambrini claims that any iPod or earlier-generation iPhone will also succumb to the bug. "I'm actually surprised that it's crashing the device rather then crashing the web browser, because that means he's got a kernel vulnerability in the iPhone," says Cameron Hotchkies, an engineer and Apple expert for TippingPoint.

Zambrini could attempt to profit from his discovery if Apple or other company is willing to pay for the information. "If he wanted to cash in on it he could always try taking it to us or one of the other exploit-purchasing companies," says Hotchkies. The systems engineer could also allegedly be looking for employment with Apple, although he may not be on a list of favored individuals. He has in the past applied for an iPhone security engineer position, but has not received a response.

Zambrini says he is researching the extent of the security flaw to find out if the bug could be used by malware to inject arbitrary code. So far he has not found a way to exploit the flaw at a higher level. "We can't say it's not possible, this thing needs to be studied a little deeper," he notes.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh, for the love of...

    If you're a really concerned, then hand the info over to the vendor in a responsible manner and get it taken care of. Anything else is tantamount to extortion. Of course "responsible manner" may not be inside the fence for someone who has produced a hack that allows users to cheese off the vendor. Handing it to someone like Tipping Point may just be Zambrini's best option.

  1. rtbarry

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "Apple has become horrendously irresponsible in terms of security since Jobs took the reign."

    please detail all the times that macs have been compromised in the wild during Jobs' reign. i have never suffered a single exploit/crack/vulnerability. neither have any of our dozens of MacOS machines. and that's with no 3rd party protection.

  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Security Schadefreude

    Everyone wants to exploit systems for their own benefit. I am glad this guy doesn't work around planes. He would see if he could inject an exploit into a Boeing 767 control system to crash an airliner and play around with it rather than inform the airline.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: oh for the...

    If you're a really concerned, then hand the info over to the vendor in a responsible manner and get it taken care of.

    Um, the article states: "Zambrini planned to publish news about the bug Monday--although he's saving the technical details for Apple, he says--at least for now."

    What exactly is irresponsible about this?

    Anything else is tantamount to extortion.

    Extortion? Not even close. Extortion is "Give me money, or I'm going to release this code in the wild!", which would also be illegal.

    There is no responsibility for anyone to "keep quiet" on a bug, nor do I find anything where he has released to the public the actual issue. Everything else in the article is just c***.

    Of course "responsible manner" may not be inside the fence for someone who has produced a hack that allows users to cheese off the vendor.

    OMG! He's developed a 'hack' for the iPhone! He must be completely dishonest and disreputable, as would anyone who would dare want to use an iPhone how they see fit, rather than in the limited manner Apple pushes on its customers.

    Handing it to someone like Tipping Point may just be Zambrini's best option.

    Who says he's handing it over to Tipping Point? In fact, the only one mentioning them is Forbes, who they apparently called for some information on it.

    But, hey, its someone who dared announce he found a bug in apple software (that currently can lead to a DOS)! He should be flogged!

  1. Izzard

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Zibri is a liar and cheat

    This was not discovered by Zibri. It was discovered by me in February. I shared the information with him and he has kept it to himself until now, for some reason. Maybe he needs the site traffic?

  1. gskibum3

    Joined: Dec 1969


    heh. heh.

    I know how to crash the iPhone.

    Go to Safari and spend a couple of minutes browsing almost any given web site.

  1. macnixer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Crash Safari easily

    Open any article on your iPhone 3G with all the latest updates. As soon as the page loads about 80%, zoom into the article. Scroll down and Safari crashes. I can guarantee this 100%.

    The other option to crash Safari. If you are patient enough to let the page load on macnn and then scroll to the comments then enter the username and click on the password field, Safari will crash. I have literally practiced crashing Safari like this. Well I have sent the logs to Apple but not to Macnn. Never thought that I should till now in this comment.

    What is the problem. Well I don't know. But I can surely say Safari Mobile is buggy.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    who needs another browser

    who needs another browser? you already have one in your iphone, buggy? ok, insecure? ok why do you care anyway? you have apple product get on with it, :) who needs another browser less buggy more secure anyway? apple name on it is enough the rest is a lie...
    (just sarcasm :) ) this is the way of apple... it does not like competition in its products, and i m very suprised that noone until now has strongly held a case against apple for uncompetitive practises it is doing... why this c*** with unrelated comment? well people nagged before why do you need 2 mediaplayer? why do you need 2 browser? in other recent subjects... it is a matter of choice and competition... more products more competition forced quality improvements... who are you to decide what is best for consumers? apple markets its products thingking that customers are stupid, and it decides for them... full stop...

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