'Flawed' Apple Software Leaves Your Facebook, Gmail Open to Hackers

Feb 22, 2014 10:06 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Apple has learned of a crucial flaw in its iOS software that lets hackers easily intercept even encrypted communications.

Mobile devices from the Cupertino, Calif.-based company allow for hacking, and industry experts believe Mac computers are especially vulnerable.

While the company didn't reveal how the issue was discovered, an Apple statement published on the support site admitted the software "failed to validate the authenticity of the connection," Reuters reported.

Apple users are vulnerable when they are on an unsecured wireless service such as a public hotspot at a restaurant. Because of the iOS software flaw, hackers can view and intercept exchanges between the user and sites like Gmail and Facebook, which are intended to be encrypted.

"It's as bad as you could imagine, that's all I can say," Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor Matthew Green told Reuters.

Besides the average hacker, Apple devices have been vulnerable to any government agencies that can access telecom data.

According to Green, hackers are able to "impersonate" protected sites like Facebook and watch as data goes back and forth between the user and the genuine site.

Apple hasn't said if hackers have been exploiting the flaw, which was found in how iOS transfers data through "secure sockets layer or transport layer security." The company has issued updates for the current version of iOS for iPhone 4 and later, 5th-generation iPod touches, and iPad 2 and later, Reuters reported.

Security researchers have analyzed the software patches and found that the same flaw is in the Mac OSX software, which is used on Apple laptop and desktop computers. Apple hasn't released software patches for that system yet but should soon.

The company, which also recently learned that the National Security Agency has reportedly had full access to iPhones, declined to comment to Reuters.

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