A critical vulnerability has been discovered in various versions of Apple operating systems, including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The vulnerability is identified as CVE-2023-38604 and categorized as an out-of-bounds write issue. It has been fixed in multiple versions across platforms:

macOS Ventura 13.5

Exploiting this vulnerability could allow an app to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges. This long-read post will provide an in-depth analysis of the issue, with references to the original sources, code snippets demonstrating the vulnerability, and details related to exploit attempts.

The Vulnerability (CVE-2023-38604)

An out-of-bounds write issue was addressed with improved input validation in the affected operating systems. This vulnerability occurs due to improper handling of user-supplied data, which may lead to memory corruption and trigger arbitrary code execution with kernel privileges in the context of the current process.

- CVE-2023-38604
- Apple Security Advisory

Code Snippet Demonstrating the Vulnerability

The vulnerability could be triggered by the following hypothetical code snippet, where user input is not correctly validated and can cause an out-of-bounds write:


#define BUFFER_SIZE 16

int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
    char buffer[BUFFER_SIZE];

    if(argc > 1) {
        strcpy(buffer, argv[1]);
    } else {
        printf("Usage: %s <input_string>\n", argv[]);
        return -1;

    return ;

In this example, the user-supplied input is not checked for size constraints before being copied into a fixed-sized buffer. If the input string is larger than the BUFFER_SIZE, it can cause a buffer overflow and potentially lead to code execution with kernel-level privileges.

Exploit Details

An attacker can exploit this vulnerability by running a malicious app or convincing a user to download and execute a crafted file. The malicious payload can be embedded within the app or file, and once executed, it gains kernel-level privileges, potentially allowing the attacker to compromise the target device.

The vulnerability can be exploited remotely if an attacker controls a website containing a malicious payload that is executed when a user visits the site with a vulnerable browser. This would give the attacker persistent control over the compromised device, complete access to the user's files and data, and the ability to execute any code with kernel privileges.


The CVE-2023-38604 vulnerability highlights the importance of proper input validation and memory management, as an out-of-bounds write issue can lead to severe consequences. Apple has addressed this vulnerability in its latest security updates, and users are advised to update their devices immediately to prevent potential exploitation.

By understanding and analyzing these vulnerabilities, we contribute to improving the overall security of the affected operating systems and devices and help reduce the chances of successful cyberattacks against unsuspecting users. Don't forget to keep your devices updated and patched to reduce the likelihood of exploitation.


Published on: 07/28/2023 05:15:11 UTC
Last modified on: 08/03/2023 16:51:50 UTC