Unpatched Mac bug gives attackers “super user” status
Researchers have made it easier to exploit a five-month-old security flaw that allows penetration testers and less-ethical hackers to gain nearly unfettered "root" access to Macs over which they already have limited control.
The authentication bypass vulnerability was reported in March and resides in a Unix component known as sudo. While the program is designed to require a password before granting "super user" privileges such as access to other users' files, the bug makes it possible to obtain that sensitive access by resetting the computer clock to January 1, 1970. That date is known in computing circles as the Unix epoch, and it represents the beginning of time as measured by the operating system and most of the applications that run on it. By invoking the sudo command and then resetting the date, computers can be tricked into turning over root privileges without a password.