We Hacked Apple for 3 Months: Here’s What We Found


Between the period of July 6th to September 6th myself, Brett Buerhaus, Ben Sadeghipour, Samuel Erb, and Tanner Barnes worked together and hacked on the Apple bug bounty program.

During our engagement, we found a variety of vulnerabilities in core portions of their infrastructure that would've allowed an attacker to fully compromise both customer and employee applications, launch a worm capable of automatically taking over a victim's iCloud account, retrieve source code for internal Apple projects, fully compromise an industrial control warehouse software used by Apple, and take over the sessions of Apple employees with the capability of accessing management tools and sensitive resources.

There were a total of 55 vulnerabilities discovered with 11 critical severity, 29 high severity, 13 medium severity, and 2 low severity reports. These severities were assessed by us for summarization purposes and are dependent on a mix of CVSS and our understanding of the business related impact.

As of October 6th, 2020, the vast majority of these findings have been fixed and credited. They were typically remediated within 1-2 business days (with some being fixed in as little as 4-6 hours).


While scrolling through Twitter sometime around July I noticed a blog post being shared where a researcher was awarded $100,000 from Apple for discovering an authentication bypass that allowed them to arbitrarily access any Apple customer account. This was surprising to me as I previously understood that Apple's bug bounty program only awarded security vulnerabilities affecting their physical products and did not payout for issues affecting their web assets.

Zero-day in Sign in with Apple - bounty $100khttps://t.co/9lGeXcni3K— Bhavuk Jain (@bhavukjain1) May 30, 2020

After finishing the article, I did a quick Google search and found their program page where it detailed Apple was willing to pay for vulnerabilities "with significant impact to users" regardless of whether or not the asset was explicitly listed in scope.

This caught my attention as an interesting opportunity to investigate a new program which appeared to have a wide scope and fun functionality. At the time I had never worked on the Apple bug bounty program so I didn't really have any idea what to expect but decided why not try my luck and see what I could find.

In order to make the project more fun I sent a few messages to hackers I'd worked with in the past and asked if they'd like to work together on the program. Even though there was no guarantee regarding payouts nor an understanding of how the program worked, everyone said yes, and we began hacking on Apple.


The first step in hacking Apple was figuring out what to actually target. Both Ben and Tanner were the experts here, so they began figuring out what all Apple owned that was accessible to us. All of the results from their scanning were indexed in a dashboard that included the HTTP status code, headers, response body, and screenshot of the accessible web servers under the various domains owned by Apple that we’d refer to over the engagement.


To be brief: Apple's infrastructure is massive.

They own the entire IP range, which includes 25,000 web servers with 10,000 of them under apple.com, another 7,000 unique domains, and to top it all off, their own TLD (dot apple). Our time was primarily spent on the IP range, .apple.com, and .icloud.com since that was where the interesting functionality appeared to be.

After making a listing of all of the web servers, we began running directory brute forcing on the more interesting ones.

Some of the immediate findings from the automated scanning were...

  • VPN servers affected by Cisco CVE-2020-3452 Local File Read 1day (x22)
  • Leaked Spotify access token within an error message on a broken page

The information obtained by these processes were useful in understanding how authorization/authentication worked across Apple, what customer/employee applications existed, what integration/development tools were used, and various observable behaviors like web servers consuming certain cookies or redirecting to certain applications.

After all of the scans were completed and we felt we had a general understanding of the Apple infrastructure, we began targeting individual web servers that felt instinctively more likely to be vulnerable than others.

This began a series of findings that continued throughout our engagement and progressively increased our understanding of Apple’s program.

Vulnerabilities Discovered

Vulnerability Write-Ups

We can’t write about all the vulnerabilities we discovered, but here is a sample of some of the more interesting vulnerabilities.

Full Compromise of Apple Distinguished Educators Program via Authentication and Authorization Bypass

One of the first services we spent time hacking was the “Apple Distinguished Educators” site. This was an invitation-only Jive forum where users could authenticate using their Apple account. Something interesting about this forum was that some of the core Jive functionality to register to the app was ported through a custom middleware page built by Apple in order to connect their authentication system (IDMSA) to the underlying Jive forum which normally used username/password authentication.

This was built to allow users to easily use their already existing Apple account to authenticate to the forum and not have to deal with creating an additional user account. You would simply use the “Sign In With Apple” and be logged into the forum.

The landing page for users who were not allowed to access the forum was an application portal where you provided information about yourself that was assessed by the forum moderators for approval.

When you submitted an application to use the forum, you supplied nearly all of the values of your account as if you were registering to the Jive forum normally. This would allow the Jive forum to know who you were based on your IDMSA cookie since it tied your email address belonging to your Apple account to the forum.

One of the values that was hidden on the page within the application to register to use the forum was a “password” field with the value “###INvALID#%!3”. When you submitted your application that included your username, first and last name, email address, and employer, you were also submitting a “password” value which was then secretly tied to your account sourced from a hidden input field on the page.

<div class="j-form-row">
<input id="password" type="hidden" value="###INvALID#%!3">
<div id="jive-pw-strength">

After observing the hidden default password field, we immediately had the idea to find a way to manually authenticate to the application and access an approved account for the forum instead of attempting to login using the “Sign In With Apple” system. We investigated this because the password was the same for each one of us on our separate registrations.

If anyone had applied using this system and there existed functionality where you could manually authenticate, you could simply login to their account using the default password and completely bypass the "Sign In With Apple" login.

From a quick glance, it did not appear that you could manually authenticate, but after a few Google searches we identified a “cs_login” endpoint which was meant for logging in with a username and password to Jive applications. When we manually formed the test HTTP request to authenticate to the Apple Distinguished Developers application, we found that it attempted to authenticate us by displaying an incorrect password error. When we used our own accounts that we had previously applied with, the application errored out and did not allow us to authenticate as we were not yet approved. We would have to find the username of an already approved member if we wanted to authenticate.

At this point, we loaded the HTTP request into Burp Suite’s intruder and attempted to brute force usernames between 1 and 3 characters via the login and default password.

After about two minutes we received a 302 response indicating a successful login to the username “erb” with the default password. We were in! From this point, our next goal was to authenticate as someone with elevated permissions. We took a few screenshots of our access and clicked the “Users” list to view which users were administrators. We logged into the first account we saw on the list in an attempt to prove we could achieve remote code execution via the administrative functionality, however, there were still a few roadblocks ahead.

When attempting to browse to “/admin/” (the Jive administrator console) as the admin account, the application redirected to login as if we were not yet authenticated. This was strange, as it was custom behavior for the Jive application and none of us had observed this before. Our guess was that Apple had restricted the administration console based on IP address to make sure that there was never a full compromise of the application.

One of the first things we tried was using the X-Forwarded-For header to bypass the hypothetical restriction, but sadly that failed. The next thing we tried was to load a different form of “/admin/” in-case the application had path specific blacklists for accessing the administrator console.

After just a few more HTTP requests, we figured out that “GET /admin;/” would allow an attacker to access the administration console. We automated this bypass by setting up a Burp Suite rule which automatically changed “GET/POST /admin/” to “GET/POST /admin;/” in our HTTP requests.

When we finally navigated and loaded the administration console, it was immediately clear that something wasn’t right. We did not have access to the normal functionality that would demonstrate remote code execution (there was no templating, plugin upload, nor the standard administrative debugging functionality).

At this point, we stopped to think about where we were and realized that the account we authenticated to may not be the “core” administrator of the application. We went ahead and authenticated to 2-3 more accounts before finally authenticating as the core administrator and seeing functionality that would allow for remote code execution.

An attacker could (1) bypass the authentication by manually authenticating using a hidden default login functionality, then (2) access the administration console via sending a modified HTTP path in the request, and finally (3) completely compromise the application by using the one of many “baked in RCE” functionalities like plugin upload, templating, or file management.

Overall, this would've allowed an attacker to...

  • Execute arbitrary commands on the ade.apple.com webserver
  • Access the internal LDAP service for managing user accounts
  • Access the majority of Apple's internal network

At this point, we finished the report and submitted everything.

Full Compromise of DELMIA Apriso Application via Authentication Bypass

Something we had thought about a lot while hacking Apple was whether or not they had any accessible services relating to the manufacturing and distribution of their products. As it turns out, there was an application called "DELMIA Apriso" which was a third-party "Global Manufacturing Suite" which provided what appeared to be various warehouse solutions.

Sadly, there did not appear to be much available interaction for the technology as you could only "login" and "reset password" from the available interfaces.

After attempting to find vulnerabilities on the limited number of pages, something strange happened: we were authenticated as a user called "Apple No Password User" based on a bar which appeared in the upper right portion of the site.

What had happened was that, by clicking "Reset Password", we were temporarily authenticated as a user who had "Permission" to use the page.

The application's authentication model worked whereas users had specific permissions to use specific pages. The "reset password" page counted as a page itself, so in order to let us use it, the application automatically logged us into an account that was capable of using the page.

We attempted a variety of things in order to elevate our permissions but didn't seem to get anywhere for a long time. After a while, we sent an HTTP request to an OAuth endpoint which returned an authorization bearer for the application.

We were now able to explore the API and hopefully find some permission issue which would allow us to compromise some portion of the application. Luckily, during our recon process, we found a list of API requests for the application.

We sadly did not have access to the majority of the API calls, but some sections like "Operations" disclosed a massive number of available functionalities.

If you hit the "/Apriso/HttpServices/api/platform/1/Operations" endpoint, it would return a list of nearly 5,000 different API calls. None of these required authentication beyond the initial authorization bearer we initially sent. The operations disclosed here included things like...

  • Creating and modifying shipments
  • Creating and modifying employee paydays
  • Creating and modifying inventory information
  • Validating employee badges
  • Hundreds of warehouse related operations

The one that we paid most attention to was "APL_CreateEmployee_SO".

You could send a GET request to the specific operations and receive the expected parameters using the following format:

GET /Apriso/HttpServices/api/platform/1/Operations/operation HTTP/1.1
Host: colormasters.apple.com

With the following HTTP response:

  "InputTypes": {
    "OrderNo": "Char",
    "OrderType": "Integer",
    "OprSequenceNo": "Char",
    "Comments": "Char",
    "strStatus": "Char",
    "UserName": "Char"
  "OutputTypes": {},
  "OperationCode": "APL_Redacted",
  "OperationRevision": "APL.I.1.4"

It took a bit of time, but after a while we realized that in order to actually call the API you had to send a POST request with JSON data in the following format:

  "inputs": {
    "param": "value"

The above format (after the fact) appears very simple and easy to understand, but at the time of hacking we had absolutely no idea how to form this call. I had even tried emailing the company who provided the software asking how you were supposed to form these API calls, but they wouldn't respond to my email because I didn't have a subscription to the service.

I'd spent nearly 6 hours trying to figure out how to form the above API call, but after we figured it out, it was very much smooth sailing. The "create employee" function required various parameters that relied on UUIDs, but we were able to retrieve these via the other "Operations" and fill them in as we went along.

About two hours more, we finally formed the following API request:

POST /Apriso/HttpServices/api/platform/1/Operations/redacted HTTP/1.1
Host: colormasters.apple.com
Authorization: Bearer redacted
Connection: close
Content-Type: application/json
Content-Length: 380
  "inputs": {
    "Name": "Samuel Curry",
    "EmployeeNo": "redacted",
    "LoginName": "yourloginname123",
    "Password": "yourpassword123",
    "LanguageID": "redacted",
    "AddressID": "redacted",
    "ContactID": "redacted",
    "DefaultFacility": "redacted",
    "Department": "",
    "DefaultMenuItemID": "redacted",
    "RoleName": "redacted",
    "WorkCenter": ""

After we sent this API call, we could now authenticate as a global administrator to the application. This gave us full oversight to the warehouse management software and probably RCE via some accepted functionality.

There were hundreds of different functionalities that would've caused massive information disclosure and been capable of disrupting what appeared to be a somewhat crucial application used for inventory and warehouse management.



When we first started this project we had no idea we'd spend a little bit over three months working towards it's completion. This was originally meant to be a side project that we'd work on every once in a while, but with all of the extra free time with the pandemic we each ended up putting a few hundred hours into it.

Overall, Apple was very responsive to our reports. The turn around for our more critical reports was only four hours between time of submission and time of remediation.

Since no-one really knew much about their bug bounty program, we were pretty much going into unchartered territory with such a large time investment. Apple has had an interesting history working with security researchers, but it appears that their vulnerability disclosure program is a massive step in the right direction to working with hackers in securing assets and allowing those interested to find and report vulnerabilities.

Writing this blog post has been an interesting process as we were a bit unsure how to actually go about doing it. To be honest, each bug we found could've probably been turned into a full writeup with how much random information there was. The authentication system Apple uses was fairly complex and to reference it with 1-2 sentences felt as if we were cheating someone out of information. The same thing could be said about many elements within Apple's infrastructure like iCloud, the Apple store, and the Developer platform.

As of now, October 4th, we have received four payments totaling $51,500 for the following vulnerability reports:

  • $5,000 - Disclosing the Full Name of iCloud users via Editor Invitation on redacted
  • $6,500 - Gopher/CRLF Semi-Blind SSRF with Access to Internal Corporate Environments
  • $6,000 - IDOR on https://redacted/
  • $34,000 - Multiple eSign environments vulnerable to system memory leaks containing secrets and customer data due to public-facing actuator heapdump, env, and trace

We've obtained permission from the Apple security team (product-security@apple.com) to publish this and are doing so under their discretion. All of the vulnerabilities disclosed here have been fixed and re-tested. Please do not disclose information pertaining to Apple's security without their permission.

Supporting Resources


Huge thanks to the following people:

  • Jack Cable
  • Dan Ritter
  • Nathanial Lattimer
  • Jasraj Bedi
  • Justin Rhinehart
  • Everyone on the Apple product security team who have been incredibly responsive and involved with our submissions

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments at admin(at)samcurry.net or using the contact form.