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Apple Apologizes to a Researcher for Ignoring iOS Vulnerabilities and Stated That It Is ‘Still Investigating’

Denis Tokarev, a security researcher, made several zero-day iOS vulnerabilities public last week after claiming that Apple had ignored his reports and had failed to fix the issues for several months. Tokarev told Motherboard today that Apple contacted him after he went public with his complaints and they received significant media attention. Apple apologized for the contact delay and stated that it is “still investigating” the issues in an email.
“We saw your blog post regarding this issue and your other reports. We apologize for the delay in responding to you,” an Apple employee wrote. “We want to let you know that we are still investigating these issues and how we can address them to protect customers. Thank you again for taking the time to report these issues to us, we appreciate your assistance. Please let us know if you have any questions.”
Apple did patch one of the vulnerabilities in iOS 14.7 but did not credit Tokarev. Three other issues are still unresolved, including a Game Center bug that allegedly allows any app downloaded from the App Store to access full Apple ID email and name, Apple ID authentication tokens, contact lists, and some attachments. Tokarev has made public the details of all zero-day vulnerabilities, which may prompt Apple to fix them more quickly. Tokarev first contacted Apple about these bugs between March 10 and May 4, so Apple has had months to issue patches. However, several security researchers and Tokarev himself have confirmed that the bugs are not highly critical because exploiting them would require a malicious app to first receive App Store approval. Nonetheless, experts have criticized Apple’s response as well as its bug bounty program. According to cybersecurity expert Katie Moussouris, Apple’s handling of the process is “not normal and should not be considered normal,” while researcher Nicholas Ptacek believes Apple’s response is a “reaction to bad press.” The Washington Post interviewed more than two dozen security researchers earlier this month to expose flaws in Apple’s bug bounty program. Researchers claimed that Apple is slow to fix bugs and does not always pay out what is owed, making them dissatisfied with Apple’s program. Ivan Krstic, Apple’s Head of Security Engineering and Architecture, stated at the time that Apple is “planning to introduce new rewards for researchers” to increase participation and that Apple is working to provide new and improved research tools.

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