In response to serious bug, Saurik disables purchases in Cydia Store

Saurik (Jay Freeman) was forced to make a tough decision involving the Cydia Store on Thursday after receiving troubling news from concerned developers in the jailbreak community.

As it would seem, a severe bug discovered in the platform by Andy Wiik could have enabled arbitrary Cydia Store package purchases via users’ PayPal accounts if they were logged into a Cydia account with a linked PayPal account and browsing potentially malicious third-party repositories in the app.

To resolve this issue as quickly as possible, Saurik disabled purchases in the Cydia Store. Consequently, you can no longer purchase packages from default repositories such as BigBoss, but you can still access the add-ons you bought previously.

Notably, you can still use and browse Cydia and make purchases from third-party repositories like Packix, Chariz, and Dynastic Repo, which are considered “trusted” and handle payments through their own custom methods – PayPal included.

To be precise, absolutely no personal data was leaked. This means you shouldn’t need to change your PayPal account password. Now that Cydia Store purchases have been officially disabled, future discrepancies shouldn’t transpire.

Saurk issued an official response to the matter on /r/jailbreak Thursday afternoon. The full quote can be found below:

Unless you are logged in and using Cydia while also browsing a repository with untrusted content (which, FWIW, is difficult to not do with Cydia <- I do appreciate this sad fact about the ecosystem: it was never clear to users that they should be careful installing random repositories), this is “not an issue”. As you would only ever be logged in to Cydia in order to actively buy something or download a paid purchase (Cydia, very much on purpose as a security feature of the software, does not cache login tokens when you close the app) and effectively no one is buying anything anymore (for multiple, even numerous!, reasons), this issue affects very few users despite being worded in a very vague way to, I would assume purposefully, cause maximal chaos and carnage, leading to questions that go so far as “how do I do this without being jailbroken”. If you are not jailbroken, you definitely should have no concern about this.

In particular, this vulnerability is not a data leak (as some people are wondering, and given the vague complaint from Nullpixel is a perfectly valid thing to be thinking: one would presume that I somehow lost access to PayPal authorization tokens allowing someone else to take money from your PayPal account: this categorically is not the issue at hand today), and there is definitely no need to go out of your way to disable tokens if you are not actually using Cydia anymore: it is “only” (in quotes as this is still a serious issue… if this were actually a product still being used by anyone ;P) the ability to force a purchase by a user who is currently logged in to Cydia; there is no concern about the information in your Cydia account that I know of at this time.

The reality is that I wanted to just shut down the Cydia Store entirely before the end of the year, and was considering moving the timetable up after receiving the report (to this weekend); this service loses me money and is not something I have any passion to maintain: it was a critical component of a healthy ecosystem, and for a while it helped fund a small staff of people to maintain the ecosystem, but it came at great cost to my sanity and led lots of people to irrationally hate me due to what amounted to a purposeful misunderstanding of how profit vs. revenue works. (That said, shutting this down doesn’t actually mitigate the majority of my costs right now, which involve many terabytes of bandwidth per month continuing to be spent on hosting the archived repositories I took on as my responsibility; I am thankfully currently making enough money from my new job to cover these costs.)

However, given the push from Nullpixel and Andy Wiik to do something about it this morning, I’ve had to reconsider my timelines; I have thereby gone ahead and shut down the ability to buy things in Cydia, effective immediately. I will put together a more formal post about the arc of Cydia, likely to be published next week.

Saurik confirms that he will maintain previous purchases in another comment, quoted below:

I am intending to maintain the ability to download existing packages: the accounting and backend execution burden of this is much lower than continuing to allow purchases and removing the payment code means I don’t have to worry that I messed up anything else in the payment backend, security-wise.

In case all of this sounds confusing, we want to reiterate that you can still use Cydia and third-party repositories, but we want to take this time to remind everyone about the importance of using only reputable third-party repositories.

Adding and using shady third-party repositories warrants a higher risk of having your payment information compromised. If you can’t tell if a third-party repository is reputable or not, then you can use this comprehensive list of third-party repositories as your guide. Consider those in our list to be ‘trusted’ and ‘reputable.’

Albeit unrelated, we should add that the Sileo package manager is still in development and aims to replace Cydia as the jailbreak community’s primary package installer and repository manager. There’s no ETA for its release yet, but you should be able to access the same repositories and packages that you could in Cydia.

Are you happy that Saurik responded to the problem promptly? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.