Saturday, May 25, 2019
How To's

How to fix macOS High Sierra root bug – stop hackers accessing your Mac

Root Bug

Your Mac can be hacked into thanks to MacOS High Sierra root access flaw, here’s how to stop anyone from hacking into your Mac

A flaw in macOS High Sierra was discovered on Tuesday 28 November 2017 that allows root access to a Mac without the need for a password.

This means that all anyone needs to do to adjust settings on your Mac is to enter root as the user name – no password is required.

For example, the user could access your Security & Privacy settings in System Preferences, enter root as User Name, without any need for a password, and gain all the administrator rights. Allowing them to change the user password, change your settings for downloading applications, access keychain data, and more.

Apparently the first time they attempt to log in, it won’t work. But the second time they try they will be granted access.

Apple’s fix

We said that Apple was likely to issue a fix for the flaw within a few days, and sure enough the company rolled out a patch within 24 hours of the issue being highlighted.

“When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes this security hole,” Apple said. “This morning [Wed 29th Nov], as of 8:00 am, the update is available for download and starting later today it will be automatically installed on all systems running the latest version (10.13.1) of macOS High Sierra.”

Needless to say we recommend updating to avail yourself of this patch: more details here. You’ll find more information about the latest version of MacOS here.

Apple also issued an apology for the problem:

“Security is a top priority for every Apple product and regrettably we stumbled with this release of macOS… We greatly regret this error and we apologise to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development process to help prevent this from happening again.”

How to fix the root security issue yourself

Apple’s fix should sort the problem, but if for some reason you are unable or unwilling to install this, the following method should fix the issue manually:

  1. Open the Finder.
  2. Click on Go > Go to Folder.
  3. Type: /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/ in the text box.
  4. Click Go.
  5. Open Spotlight by pressing Command+Space.
  6. Search for the Directory Utility app and open it.
  7. Click on the lock icon so you can make changes.
  8. Enter your name and password in the pop-up window.
  9. Click Modify Configuration.
  10. Click on Edit.
  11. Select Change Root Password.
  12. Enter your new password and verify it.
  13. Click OK.
  14. Now click the lock again to lock it so no more changes can be made.
  15. Quick Directory Utility.

Now if anyone tries to log on as root they will need to enter a password.


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