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Browser-based iOS 'jailbreak' utilizes 'scary' PDF security hole

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
The latest browser-based "jailbreak" for iOS devices, including the iPhone 4, utilizes a PDF exploit that one prominent security expert called both "scary" and "very beautiful work."

Sean Sullivan, security advisor with F-Secure Corporation, revealed on Tuesday the technical details of the jailbreak process, which is done entirely in the Mobile Safari browser. The jailbreakme.com site includes 20 separate PDFs for different combinations of hardware and firmware.

The same PDF files rely on a corrupt font, and crash the Safari browser's Compact Font Format handler.

Sullivan also linked to comments made via Twitter by security researcher Charlie Miller, who was also analyzing the code behind the browser-based jailbreak.

"Very beautiful work," Miller wrote. "Scary how it totally defeats Apple's security architecture."

While the jailbreakme.com URL itself is not intended for malicious purposes, the PDF exploit it uses could be utilized by hackers to more nefarious ends. Miller said that with this method, a hacker does not need physical access to an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad -- they just simply need to have the user visit a vulnerable website.

Last year, Miller exposed a dangerous SMS exploit that could allow a hacker to remotely control an iPhone. He notified Apple of the flaw, and the company quickly released a patch to plug the exploit.

Apple is likely to quickly act once again and plug the vulnerability that affects all iOS devices -- all models of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. When that happens, hackers who want to jailbreak iOS devices to run unauthorized code and operating system modifications blocked by Apple will have to find another method.

The member of the iPhone Dev Team who goes by the handle "comex" said this week that he has other potential exploits he will look to when Apple inevitably patches the PDF flaw.

"Maybe I'll rely on USB based stuff for the next jailbreak so that Apple won't patch it so fast," he said.



Ironically, jailbreakers have already developed a workaround solution that can help users avoid being hacked through the PDF exploit. Developer Will Strafach on Tuesday released an application available on the jailbroken Cydia store that will warn users when a Mobile Safari page is loading a PDF file. The solution does not patch the hole, but helps to prevent users from visiting sites with all PDF files to avoid the exploit.
post #2 of 91
Charlie Miller is also the person Apple credits with reporting a very similar bug in Mac OS X, which was patched in June of this year.

From a Computerworld interview with Charlie Miller
Quote:
"Not only does this elevate to the root, giving you complete control of the iPhone, but it breaks out of the sandbox," said Miller in an interview Monday, referring to the isolation technology designed to block rogue code from escaping the mobile Safari browser.

"There's no shell on the iPhone, so [comex] had to do all that himself to get control," Miller continued. "He elevated to root, turned off all code signing, broke out of the sandbox...all in the payload of the exploit.

"And it works every time. Not just a few times out of a hundred. But every time."

Now, who was it that said "It's not at this point a serious issue"?

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"My 8th grade math teacher once said: "You can't help it if you're dumb, you are born that way. But stupid is self inflicted."" -Hiro. 

...sometimes it's both
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post #3 of 91
still think android is so so so much more vulnerable?
post #4 of 91
"comprimise" - now that's professional...

- Dave Marsh
iMac Intel 27" 3.4GHz, iPad Air 64GB, iPhone 5 32GB

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- Dave Marsh
iMac Intel 27" 3.4GHz, iPad Air 64GB, iPhone 5 32GB

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post #5 of 91
question guys, have not read anything re this question anywhere

do you think Apple is not closing some security holes by purpose to leave a door open for the devteam ?
i mean, i am quite sure that Apple has some very clever and smart people, they should be able to close down the iOS if they really want ?!
we can observe that some USB security flaws are open in iOS3 and still in 4..... MS is doing a better job in patching their windows than Apple...

thanks for your opinions.

Greetings !
post #6 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjw View Post

still think android is so so so much more vulnerable?

This is a serious issue, no one is denying that, and there will be other vulnerabilities found in iOS throughout the years that will just as bad, but Android is designed from the ground up to be insecure for the average user. That won’t change until Android changes.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #7 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Marsh View Post

"comprimise" - now that's professional...

It's sure to inspire confidence in the jailbreaking team.
post #8 of 91
so what happen to all these companies out there whose job was to find holes like this, They obviously missed this one and it must have been there for a while.
post #9 of 91
Oh Well... No OS is perfect (some less/more so than others).
"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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post #10 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by packman2002 View Post

question guys, have not read anything re this question anywhere

do you think Apple is not closing some security holes by purpose to leave a door open for the devteam ?

Yes, and H2O (the rls group) was paid by Steinberg not to crack and rls Cubase... but wait, they cracked it.

To answer your question, software is made by humans and we do make errors.
post #11 of 91
What is "ironical" about @cdevwill's tweak, exactly? People want to modify their phones and be secure from random exploits.

Apple left the CFF hole open, not @comex.
post #12 of 91
Beautiful exploit. Apple will patch this one up in the next iOS release.
We'll likely see a more malicious proof-of-concept before then.

Doesn't make a definitive statement about iOS security. The Jailbreak team will probably always find an exploit, and in something as complicated as a smartphone OS, there will always be an exploit to find, no matter who makes it. This particular exploit is quite impressive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dualie View Post

It's sure to inspire confidence in the jailbreaking team.

Their talent requires no exceptional skill with English spelling or grammar.
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #13 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulkas View Post

Charlie Miller is also the person Apple credits with reporting a very similar bug in Mac OS X, which was patched in June of this year.

From a Computerworld interview with Charlie Miller

Now, who was it that said "It's not at this point a serious issue"?

Maybe Miller is the one responsible for the hack. He certainly has a gigantic anti-Apple chip on his shoulders for all to see.

This will probably get roundly dismissed as mere paranoia, but I think it's both interesting and highly suspicious that this hack is so far above what any other iPhone hackers have been able to do so far.

I mean we have to believe that somehow almost by accident, the typical iPhone hackers stumbled on this sublime and intricate attack vector, (something that only one of the best security hackers on the planet could figure out)??

It seems more likely to me that Charlie Miller or someone of similar calibre was involved at some level and that worries me.
post #14 of 91
I guess it is fortunate that those who found this vulnerability were actually interested in creating something good for the users. Think of what might have been if they were some malevolent hackers...
post #15 of 91
Proceed at your own risk!
post #16 of 91
Very bad, Apple. Very bad, indeed.
post #17 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by alansky View Post

Proceed at your own risk!

Its a jailbreak endorsed by the iPhone Dev Team.
We've been here before...

If you want to jailbreak, here you have it.
Just remember to change your root password afterward.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
  Samuel Johnson
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post #18 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

I guess it is fortunate that those who found this vulnerability were actually interested in creating something good for the users. Think of what might have been if they were some malevolent hackers...

Duh, they *are* malevolent hackers.

In the first place, what they are doing isn't legal, in the second place they let loose a zero day security hole on iOS into the wild. Maybe on a good day these guys are just assh*le hackers instead of truly "malevolent" ones, but that's about it.

They aren't doing anyone any favours. They could have easily released the jailbreak without releasing the scary, slick PDF vulnerability and used a more traditional wired method. Like almost all hackers everywhere, they just wanted to show off. With hacking it's all about ego and "cred," and pretty always has been.

As a result, some teenager somewhere is feeling pretty sh*t-hot right now, and for the rest of us, there is a security hole in the wild.

Great.
post #19 of 91
If you jailbroke, download "PDF Loader Warner" from cydia
post #20 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post

Its a jailbreak endorsed by the iPhone Dev Team.
We've been here before...

If you want to jailbreak, here you have it.
Just remember to change your root password afterward.

From my understanding, though, this isn't just about the official jailbreak. This exploit seemingly allows anything and anybody root access to a non-jailbroken iDevice, where bad things can and will happen. I agree that there will always be exploits, but downloading an installer and physically installing it yourself through a mac or pc is a lot different than going to a web site and "sliding to jailbreak". This is not a good thing, even if the end result in this instance is positive (a debate for another day).
post #21 of 91
This font rendering security hole was patched in Mac OSX a couple months ago -- the fix did not make it to iOS4, and hence comex was able to use this hole there!! So easy he would have figured -- go to Apple security patches list, and see which fixes havent made it to iphone and attack!!

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4131
post #22 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by packman2002 View Post

question guys, have not read anything re this question anywhere

do you think Apple is not closing some security holes by purpose to leave a door open for the devteam ?
i mean, i am quite sure that Apple has some very clever and smart people, they should be able to close down the iOS if they really want ?!
we can observe that some USB security flaws are open in iOS3 and still in 4..... MS is doing a better job in patching their windows than Apple...

thanks for your opinions.

Greetings !

If it was a leak in the code that you could get around by manually changing the code or something similar than it could be intentional.

But if you're talking an exploit that can be activated off of a website, I doubt it. I'm sure apple will update this and block it asap (as well they should, these kind of vulnerabilities are dangerous).

No code is hack proof, and all in all, I think the dev communities are good things. But web exploits are serious security risks, not "breadcrumbs" for dev teams.
post #23 of 91
Security concerns aside, this is one elegant way to jailbrake your phone. Slide to Jailbrake... classic.

I jailbroke as soon as I found out that PDF Loading Warner was available. Better to be safe than sorry if someone decides to create a malicious link that exploits this vulnerability.
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post #24 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Maybe Miller is the one responsible for the hack. He certainly has a gigantic anti-Apple chip on his shoulders for all to see.

This will probably get roundly dismissed as mere paranoia, but I think it's both interesting and highly suspicious that this hack is so far above what any other iPhone hackers have been able to do so far.

I mean we have to believe that somehow almost by accident, the typical iPhone hackers stumbled on this sublime and intricate attack vector, (something that only one of the best security hackers on the planet could figure out)??

It seems more likely to me that Charlie Miller or someone of similar calibre was involved at some level and that worries me.

The hole would exist if they released the code or not. by releasing it (and making it public) they will spur apple to close it sooner.

There are people working on a wired hack, no doubt, but if you get an easier way to hack it, they take it.

Jailbreaking a device takes time, and someone working at it won't ignore a security hole to try and find a more complex way to do it.

iOS has a community of MILLIONS of users, and attracts a majority of mobile programmers. Computer programmers know that mobile is the future and a lot of them might even OWN an iphone.

Jailbreaking will increasingly become more sophisticated as iOS security improves. That's the nature of software development.

And it's A LOT better that the first time his exploit hits the news it's for a jailbreak and not after someone uses the code to infect others (like activeX exploits in windows). It's worth noting that the same people you're writing off as malicious hackers are from the community that developed a "fix" for this exploit before it was officially acknowledged.
post #25 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Maybe Miller is the one responsible for the hack. He certainly has a gigantic anti-Apple chip on his shoulders for all to see.

This will probably get roundly dismissed as mere paranoia, but I think it's both interesting and highly suspicious that this hack is so far above what any other iPhone hackers have been able to do so far.

I mean we have to believe that somehow almost by accident, the typical iPhone hackers stumbled on this sublime and intricate attack vector, (something that only one of the best security hackers on the planet could figure out)??

It seems more likely to me that Charlie Miller or someone of similar calibre was involved at some level and that worries me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grkhetan View Post

This font rendering security hole was patched in Mac OSX a couple months ago -- the fix did not make it to iOS4, and hence comex was able to use this hole there!! So easy he would have figured -- go to Apple security patches list, and see which fixes havent made it to iphone and attack!!

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4131

I'm gonna go with the latter.
post #26 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjw View Post

still think android is so so so much more vulnerable?

Ah... the old 1 vulnerability = countless vulnerabilities equivalency fallacy.
This is for sure a flaw, but an exception... as opposed to designing in vulnerability under the guise of 'openness'.
post #27 of 91
Btw, this security hole known to Apple and patched in OSX a couple months ago, is already fixed in the 4.1 beta releases made in the past few weeks. Thats why jailbreakme.com does not work if you have 4.1 beta installed on your phone.

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4131
post #28 of 91
For anyone who is concerned about this vulnerability on thier non-jailbroken iPhone there is an easy fix to avoid someone hacking into your phone to be malicious and restricting their access to your device.

Solution
Jailbreak your device and then change the mobile and root password defaults from the standard apple password: alpine.
post #29 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hittrj01 View Post

From my understanding, though, this isn't just about the official jailbreak. This exploit seemingly allows anything and anybody root access to a non-jailbroken iDevice, where bad things can and will happen. I agree that there will always be exploits, but downloading an installer and physically installing it yourself through a mac or pc is a lot different than going to a web site and "sliding to jailbreak". This is not a good thing, even if the end result in this instance is positive (a debate for another day).

I was replying to the "Proceed at your own risk!" comment, in the sense that this jailbreak method is no more dangerous than any other. In fact, assuming it works well, it is the easiest and most trouble-free jailbreak yet (though the can-o-worms introduced by adding more of those who are unfamiliar with jailbreaking to the jailbroken masses is another issue).

I assume you're commenting on the actual exploit.

This is a serious security flaw, and one that Apple absolutely does need to patch. It is possible that reverse-engineered or exchanged details of this exploit (a bogus font in PDF documents) will fall into the wrong capable hands, and that will lead to a real-world malicious hack. I highly doubt this will amount to any sort of real spreadable virus or threat, but it can lead to information loss through the likes of phishing schemes. In practice I suspect the most we will see of this is a proof-of-concept malicious hack or two, but little more. But more absolutely is possible and that's why this one needs to be plugged up—however cool it may be to jailbreak your device through a website.

But I disagree with you about one key point. Unless, of course, you mean 'experienced programmer with the desire, time, and reason to exploit the iOS platform' when you say 'anything and anybody'. A considerable degree of expertise will be required to do something with this (which isn't to say they're not out there—they are).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

They aren't doing anyone any favours. They could have easily released the jailbreak without releasing the scary, slick PDF vulnerability and used a more traditional wired method. Like almost all hackers everywhere, they just wanted to show off. With hacking it's all about ego and "cred," and pretty always has been.

Have to agree. They could have done this in a less dramatic and less threatening way. They chose to go with the website in a pure ego-driven 'look what we managed to do' approach. And sure enough, it is impressive, but it is not responsible or benevolent in any way. Also, along those lines, making a jailbreak this accessible isn't really doing anybody favors, as someone who couldn't manage the previous installable jailbreak tools would probably just back themselves into headaches or problems with a jailbreak anyway.
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
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  Samuel Johnson
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post #30 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by iTardHater View Post

<rant from someone who needs to get a life>

Is there a way to ignore users/trolls?
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post #31 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

This is a serious issue, no one is denying that, and there will be other vulnerabilities found in iOS throughout the years that will just as bad, but Android is designed from the ground up to be insecure for the average user. That wont change until Android changes.

There is a fundamental question here.... If you believe so much in the closed 'secure' walled garden of the iPhone then surely you also agree that computers would be so much better now, had the technology been there to stop people installing and sharing their own software with each other 20 years ago when the personal computer first took off.

In some ways its bloody brilliant that microsoft wiped the floor with apple in the early days because otherwise computing would be like 1984 with no freedom whatsoever.

Can you please explain why android is from the ground up insecure? Open source is not an answer, if anything open source is a benefit.
post #32 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post

I was replying to the "Proceed at your own risk!" comment, in the sense that this jailbreak method is no more dangerous than any other. In fact, assuming it works well, it is the easiest and most trouble-free jailbreak yet (though the can-o-worms introduced by adding more of those who are unfamiliar with jailbreaking to the jailbroken masses is another issue).

I assume you're commenting on the actual exploit.

This is a serious security flaw, and one that Apple absolutely does need to patch. It is possible that reverse-engineered or exchanged details of this exploit (a bogus font in PDF documents) will fall into the wrong capable hands, and that will lead to a real-world malicious hack. I highly doubt this will amount to any sort of real spreadable virus or threat, but it can lead to information loss through the likes of phishing schemes. In practice I suspect the most we will see of this is a proof-of-concept malicious hack or two, but little more. But more absolutely is possible and that's why this one needs to be plugged uphowever cool it may be to jailbreak your device through a website.

But I disagree with you about one key point. Unless, of course, you mean 'experienced programmer with the desire, time, and reason to exploit the iOS platform' when you say 'anything and anybody'. A considerable degree of expertise will be required to do something with this (which isn't to say they're not out therethey are).


Have to agree. They could have done this in a less dramatic and less threatening way. They chose to go with the website in a pure ego-driven 'look what we managed to do' approach. And sure enough, it is impressive, but it is not responsible or benevolent in any way. Also, along those lines, making a jailbreak this accessible isn't really doing anybody favors, as someone who couldn't manage the previous installable jailbreak tools would probably just back themselves into headaches or problems with a jailbreak anyway.

The code existed anyway.

By making it a PUBLIC release, they will force apple to patch it through faster.
post #33 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by iTardHater View Post

Obviously Apple Insider and Charlie Miller have no idea what they are talking about when they refer to this as "Apple's" security infrasture. The Security infrastructure is provided by BSD/Mach which is FREEWARE code that crApple simply uses in Macs and iCrap.

The PDF engine in all crapple products was hacked together from Freeware code by the NeXT goofs years ago, and then they gave it to a couple of Film Studies dropouts from Kansas (john calhoun is one of them) who decided one day that they want to develop "software" for crApple and get $150,000 per year for it. This is a typical scenario in crApple and explains all the overhyped garbage that people are so upset about paying so much money for...they do not understand the freeware BSD/Mach and its security infrastructure, and that is why opening a PDF document executes code that completely breaches your device's security.

Opening a PDF document jailbreaks the device because crApple's dumb software executes code inside the PDF document which breaches the devices security. It's Apples fault for its lack of understanding of the Freeware BSD/Mach operating software that it uses.

So, Yes. Macs and iCrap are highly vulnerable to viruses and spyware, crApple is just lucky that no one has really taken full advantage of all the security holes because its not a worthwhile target.

you registered to post that? congratulations!
post #34 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menno View Post

The code existed anyway.

By making it a PUBLIC release, they will force apple to patch it through faster.

Of course the code existed anyway. In other news, the sky is often blue.

What didn't exist before was such accessible knowledge of the exploit's existence.

The responsible thing to do would have been to contact Apple privately to advise them of the exploit before going public with it, so no users would have been potentially endangered. The far more irresponsible, but 'benevolent hacker-esque' response would have been to contact Apple and give them time to patch the exploit before going public with it. They didn't even live up to that standard...
The true measure of a man is how he treats someone that can do him absolutely no good.
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post #35 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by packman2002 View Post

question guys, have not read anything re this question anywhere

do you think Apple is not closing some security holes by purpose to leave a door open for the devteam ?
i mean, i am quite sure that Apple has some very clever and smart people, they should be able to close down the iOS if they really want ?!
we can observe that some USB security flaws are open in iOS3 and still in 4..... MS is doing a better job in patching their windows than Apple...

thanks for your opinions.

Greetings !

that's not what's happening at all. give credit where credit is due. hackers hack. the good ones do it really well. this is an example of exactly that.

I jailbroke my phone earlier today on my 3g connection away from home and didnt even restart my phone. I then downloaded My3G and placed a facetime call to someone else who was in the office on wifi. this is scary awesome.
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post #36 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post

Of course the code existed anyway. In other news, the sky is often blue.

What didn't exist before was such accessible knowledge of the exploit's existence.

The responsible thing to do would have been to contact Apple privately to advise them of the exploit before going public with it, so no users would have been potentially endangered. The far more irresponsible, but 'benevolent hacker-esque' response would have been to contact Apple and give them time to patch the exploit before going public with it. They didn't even live up to that standard...

Because apple knew about the exploit already. they already patched it out of OSx. The developers most likely got the idea to try this exploit from reading the change log from OSx and seeing which changes didn't make it to ios4.

Apple had time.
post #37 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menno View Post

Because apple knew about the exploit already. they already patched it out of OSx. The developers most likely got the idea to try this exploit from reading the change log from OSx and seeing which changes didn't make it to ios4.

Apple had time.

I've considered that the two might be the same exploit, but I haven't read enough to confirm that they were the exact same exploit. In any case, what is your point? That they were being responsible or benevolent? They weren't—they were showing off, and it could have been done another way.

I'm not actually upset about it. I'm going to use this to jailbreak my iPad. I hate the Spirit boot logo. I'm going to jailbreak my iPhone 4 with it as well. And I also happen to enjoy seeing such a skilled execution of an exploit or code. But I'm not going to defend their actions as responsible...

Edit: and while Apple patched that above-mentioned exploit in June, that is not a responsible timeframe.
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post #38 of 91
Quote:
"Scary how it totally defeats Apple's security architecture."

Another offensive campaign from the expert.

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post #39 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by packman2002 View Post

do you think Apple is not closing some security holes by purpose to leave a door open for the devteam ?
!



That would be the greatest thing I've ever heard! Kudos, Apple!

Those hackers will never learn...
post #40 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Daniel Ash View Post

What is "ironical" about @cdevwill's tweak, exactly? People want to modify their phones and be secure from random exploits.

.



What is ironic is how those hackers just try to hurt Apple, but this guy likes to pretend that he's there to help. People would do well to ignore this sort of "help" and to trust Apple instead.
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