Lessons in Privilege Escalation via File Read-Write

Published Categorized as Tips & Tricks
Privilege Escalation
Privilege Escalation

Vulnerabilities in AppManager for Mac

In the vast realm of cybersecurity, where every line of code is a potential battleground, understanding privilege escalation is paramount. Today, let’s delve into the intriguing discoveries made during a security review for an Application and Endpoint Management tool – which we’ll affectionately call “AppManager.”


We, as cybersecurity enthusiasts, stumble upon vulnerabilities that malicious actors could manipulate. We have focused on privilege escalation issues found in the AppManager during a meticulous security evaluation.

The Three Faces of Vulnerability

Let’s explore the trio of privilege-escalation vulnerabilities discovered:

1. Arbitrary File Read through Log Collection

The AppManager macOS app has a “Support” function that opens the door to arbitrary file read vulnerabilities. Dive into the details and witness how a low-privileged user could access high-privileged files.

2. Arbitrary File Overwrite through Log Collection

Our investigation unveils an arbitrary file overwrite vulnerability in the AppManager macOS app. Discover how an unprivileged user could manipulate time to overwrite root-owned files.

3. Arbitrary File Overwrite using the Package Installer

The AppManager installer introduces yet another vulnerability. Unravel how symlinks and timestamps become tools for file corruption, impacting critical system files.

Proof of Concept

Take a journey through practical demonstrations showcasing how these vulnerabilities can be triggered and exploited. See firsthand how the security fabric can be torn.

Vulnerability Analysis

We dissect each vulnerability, uncovering the underlying weaknesses, and provide a roadmap for developers and administrators to fortify their systems.


As we wrap up our exploration, we share insights for both developers and system administrators on preventing similar pitfalls. Learn how to bolster security and avoid falling prey to exploitation.

Timeline of Resilience

Our commitment to cybersecurity shines through in the timeline of addressing these vulnerabilities. Dive into the meticulous steps taken to ensure a secure digital environment.


1. How were these vulnerabilities discovered?

Our cybersecurity team uncovered these vulnerabilities during a routine security evaluation of the AppManager.

2. Were these vulnerabilities responsibly disclosed?

Absolutely! We reported each issue to the vendor promptly, and the journey towards resolution is meticulously documented in our timeline.

3. How can developers avoid such pitfalls in their products?

Using tools like mktemp for creating unique file names and performing robust checks before writing files can thwart potential exploits.

4. What impact did these vulnerabilities have on users?

These vulnerabilities could lead to unauthorized access and file corruption, emphasizing the critical need for timely fixes.

5. How can administrators identify similar vulnerabilities in their systems?

Look for applications running with high privileges in low-privilege user spaces. Evaluate the shared resources and potential security risks.

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