Thursday, June 12, 2014

Exploring and Exploiting iOS Web Browsers - part 1

After our Hack In The Box talk, I thought it would be a good idea to explain some of the slides in more detail. I am currently playing with iOS8 and WKWebViews, which solve a lot of issues, but not all of them. More on this soon - for now, let's stay on with UIWebViews.

UIWebView is the component used to load web content into iOS applications - basically it's Mobile Safari with the UI stripped off, leaving just the viewport part. Some of the differences:

  1. UIWebView can only view a single document at a time (+ frames)
For example, links with target="_blank" will work as target="_top", and will work   more or less the same as location.assign().

  2. There is also no UI for error events
The user will not be asked for accepting invalid SSL certificate, will not be informed the connection to the given host failed, etc. However, JavaScript-initiated alerts and prompts are shown (and are not controllable through available API).

  3. There is an API to control UIWebView content and behaviour

(By the way, you may want to take a look at this presentation from OWASP Poland meeting.)

Browsers using UIWebViews have to add the user interface - this means at least address bar and error handling. Usually to do this programmers implement UIWebViewDelegate methods:

The last one causes problems usually. The most common issue is lack of address bar update within this method. This may allow an attacker to spoof the address bar by forcing some kind of an error. Apart from events like invalid SSL certificate, NXDOMAIN DNS response or simply response timeout, this method is also called when document.write() function interrupts page load or replaces loaded page.

Lack of address bar update on webView:didFailLoadWithError: was the reason for about a half of the address bar spoofing vulnerabilities we reported to browser authors. Most of the second half was due to updating address bar too early - as soon as the navigation was initiated, before the document actually started loading into UIWebView ("loading loop" from the HITB presentation is an example). By combining both techniques, an attacker can be almost sure the address bar will point to whatever she/he wishes.

See you in the next part soon.

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