Apple Patches Vulnerabilities That Earned Hackers $500,000 at Chinese Contest

The iOS and macOS security updates released on Monday by Apple patch vulnerabilities that earned researchers more than $500,000 at a Chinese hacking contest earlier this year.

Apple has patched 42 vulnerabilities with the release of iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2, and 46 flaws with the release of macOS Monterey 12.1.

A source told SecurityWeek that five of the vulnerabilities patched this week were disclosed at the Tianfu Cup hacking contest that took place in October.

At the event, participants earned a total of roughly $1.9 million for exploits targeting Windows 10, Ubuntu, iOS 15 on iPhone 13 Pro, Microsoft Exchange, Chrome, Safari, Adobe Reader, Parallels Desktop, QEMU, Docker, VMware ESXi and Workstation, and ASUS routers.

The biggest single reward, $300,000, was earned by Team Pangu for a remote jailbreak targeting the iPhone 13 Pro with iOS 15. The exploit was triggered with a single click on a specially crafted link.

The team representing Chinese cybersecurity company Cyber Kunlun, which won the event with a total of $654,500 in rewards, earned $120,000 for its Apple exploits. A team representing cybersecurity firm Qihoo 360 earned $90,000 for its Apple exploits.

The vulnerabilities exploited by Team Pangu at the event are CVE-2021-30983, a buffer overflow in the IOMobileFrameBuffer that can be exploited for arbitrary code execution with kernel privileges, and CVE-2021-30951, a use-after-free bug in WebKit that can be used for code execution via maliciously crafted web content.

The Kunlun team has been credited by Apple for reporting CVE-2021-30984, a race condition in WebKit that allows arbitrary code execution, and CVE-2021-30954, a WebKit type confusion bug that can be exploited for code execution.

The last vulnerability exploited at Tianfu Cup is CVE-2021-30953, an out-of-bounds read vulnerability in WebKit that can allow remote code execution. All of the WebKit flaws affect both iOS and macOS.

While the researchers who disclosed the vulnerabilities earned more than half a million dollars for their exploits at the hacking contest, Apple has not paid out any additional bug bounties, SecurityWeek’s source said.

Related: Chrome 95 Update Patches Exploited Zero-Days, Flaws Disclosed at Tianfu Cup

Related: Printers Hacked for First Time at Pwn2Own

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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