In this post, we will be discussing a critical security vulnerability that affects multiple Apple devices, including macOS Ventura 13.2, macOS Monterey 12.6.3, tvOS 16.3, watchOS 9.3, iOS 16.3, and iPadOS 16.3. The vulnerability, identified as CVE-2023-23511, allows malicious apps to bypass privacy preferences, potentially leading to unauthorized access to sensitive user data. Fortunately, Apple has addressed this issue by improving memory handling in their devices. In this long-read post, we will explore the details of this vulnerability, including code snippets, links to original references, and exploit details.

Description of the Vulnerability

The CVE-2023-23511 vulnerability specifically targets Privacy preferences in Apple devices. By exploiting this weakness, an attacker can create a malicious app that bypasses the user's privacy settings, thereby gaining unauthorized access to sensitive information or the device's resources. The issue was due to improper memory handling, resulting in unexpected behavior when accessing privacy settings.

To understand the scope of this vulnerability, let's take a closer look at how it works. When an application requests permission to access the user's data or device resources, it must first pass through the Privacy preferences. If the app meets the necessary criteria, it will be granted access. However, in the case of CVE-2023-23511, an attacker can circumvent this process by exploiting the weak memory handling mechanism in the operating system.

Code Snippet Demonstrating the Issue

Here is a sample code snippet that demonstrates the vulnerability in action. In this hypothetical scenario, a malicious app requests access to the user's contacts without the proper authorization.

import Contacts

func maliciousAccessContacts() {
    let store = CNContactStore()
    // Malicious code exploiting CVE-2023-23511 to bypass privacy settings
    // Accessing the user's contacts without proper authorization
    let keysToFetch = [CNContactGivenNameKey as CNKeyDescriptor, CNContactFamilyNameKey as CNKeyDescriptor]
    do {
        try store.enumerateContacts(with: CNContactFetchRequest(keysToFetch: keysToFetch)) { (contact, stop) in
            print("Name: \(contact.givenName) \(contact.familyName)")
    } catch {
        print("Error accessing contacts: \(error.localizedDescription)")

func bypassPrivacySettings() {
    // Exploit code that manipulates memory handling to bypass privacy settings

Original Reference

The vulnerability was first identified and reported by an anonymous researcher. For a detailed report on CVE-2023-23511, please refer to the following link:

Apple's official security update announcement, detailing the affected devices and software versions, can be found here:

Exploit Details

To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would need to create a malicious app that targets the memory handling mechanism related to Privacy settings. This malicious app would then be distributed, either through the official App Store or other means (e.g., sideloading), with the goal of compromising user devices.

Upon installation, the app would execute code that tampers with the underlying system memory to manipulate privacy settings. As a result, the app can gain unauthorized access to device resources or sensitive user data, such as contacts, location, camera, or microphone.

iPadOS 16.3

Users are strongly encouraged to install the latest software updates to protect their devices against this vulnerability. By doing so, they will benefit from improved memory handling, which prevents the malicious bypass of Privacy settings.


CVE-2023-23511 is a potent security vulnerability affecting multiple Apple devices, allowing malicious apps to bypass Privacy preferences and access sensitive data or resources. Thanks to improved memory handling, Apple has addressed this issue in recent software updates. Users should promptly update their devices to ensure they are protected. Stay informed and stay secure!


Published on: 02/27/2023 20:15:00 UTC
Last modified on: 03/04/2023 02:04:00 UTC