Apple releases Flashback removal tool for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 05:21
Category: News, security, Software

If you’ve yet to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 or Mac OS X 10.7, there’s some good news.

Per Macworld, Apple on Monday released a pair of security updates for the older operating system: Leopard Security Update 2012-003 and Flashback Removal Security Update.

The Leopard Security Update disables older versions of Adobe Flash Player that don’t contain the latest security updates, prompting you to upgrade instead. That mirrors an update Apple offered for Safari on Snow Leopard and Lion last week.

The Flashback Removal Security Update finds and removes the most common variants of that malware; the updater may need to restart your Mac to complete the removal of any malware.

Both updates are available directly from Apple’s website or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.5.8 to install and run.

If you’ve tried the updates/malware removal tools and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Kaspersky Lab to help advice Apple on Mac OS X security

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 10:08
Category: News, security, Software

It never hurts to ask for a helping hand.

Per computing.co.uk, Apple has invited Kaspersky Lab to consult on potential OS X security issues following the aftermath of the largest malware outbreak on the platform.

Kaspersky has begun analyzing the OS X platform at Apple’s request, the company’s chief technology officer, Nikolai Grebennikov, said in an interview with Computing. The Kaspersky executive has publicly called Apple out for not taking security seriously enough.

“Mac OS is really vulnerable, and Apple recently invited us to improve its security,” Grebennikov said. We’ve begun an analysis of its vulnerabilities, and the malware targeting it.”

As one specific security issue with OS X, he noted that Apple has blocked Oracle from directly updating Java on the Mac. Instead, Apple handles the updates, and they typically arrive months after Oracle issues its own patches.

Mac-centric Java development is set to move to Oracle following the latest runtime updates built in-house at Apple. Apple dropped Java from the default installation of OS X 10.7 Lion after the company announced its plans to deprecate the software’s release from the Mac platform.

In April, Oracle released its first Java Development Kit and JavaFX Software Development Kit for Mac users. They arrived one and a half years after Apple announced the depreciation of its own edition of Java for Mac.

Kaspersky’s newfound partnership with Apple comes on the heels of the Flashback malware botnet, which was believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of Macs at its peak. The presence of Flashback was greatly diminished after Apple released a series of software updates to squash the malware, including a Java update and a separate removal tool.

Grebennikov cited the Flashback malware as “a huge sign that Apple’s security model isn’t perfect.” He also predicted that the first malware targeting Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, which powers the iPhone and iPad, will arrive in the next “year or so.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate photo sharing features in iCloud at WWDC

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Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 09:20
Category: iCloud, iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, add functionality.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to upgrade its iCloud service with new photo sharing functionality at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The new features will reportedly be announced when WWDC kicks off on June 11 and the new functionality will allow users to share photos with others and also comment on them.

That’s a major improvement from the current Photo Stream functionality in iCloud, which simply syncs pictures across devices rather than giving users the ability upload and share them publicly or with friends.

If true, the new photo sharing functionality would be another attempt at social networking on the part of Apple. The company launched a social networking component of iTunes with Ping in 2010, but that effort has largely failed to gain traction despite integration with Twitter.

Monday’s report also reaffirmed that Apple is planning to add support for synced Notes and Reminders to an upgraded iCloud.com website. Apple itself tipped its hand to those upgrades last week, when the site beta.icloud.com was temporarily accessible to the public.

Last week Apple’s regular iCloud.com site also showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website. Monday’s report made no mention of Web-based notification syncing for iCloud.

Apple will show off the future of both iOS and OS X at WWDC when it kicks off on June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. The company is expected to reveal more about this summer’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion update, and also unveil iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox complies with App Store’s terms of services, revises iOS app

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 07:15
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes revisions are necessary.

Per AppleInsider, Dropbox has officially confirmed the changes made to its SDK in its developer forums. Brian Smith, who works on the iPhone and iPad versions of Dropbox, said the issue with Apple was resolved after “the worst game of telephone you’ve ever played.”

Using the new SDK, applications no longer offer an option to create an account with Dropbox. If a user attempts to use an application that relies on Dropbox and the official Dropbox application is not installed on their iOS device, the SDK will open a login view for the service directly within the third-party application, rather than opening the Safari Web browser and visiting an external link, which the App Store’s terms of service prohibit.

The issue stemmed from the fact that Dropbox offers users the ability to purchase more cloud-based storage for their files. By linking to the Dropbox website to ask users to login, they could also follow a link to register for a Dropbox account and pay for additional storage if they so chose.

Apple’s official rules for App Store developers explicitly ban links to out-of-app purchases. That’s because transactions made through a browser can be used to bypass the App Store and cut Apple out of its 30 percent share of transactions.

The enforcement of that rule has affected some of the biggest names on the App Store, including Amazon, The Wall Street Journal, and Barnes & Noble. Their applications were updated to remove links to out-of-app purchases in order to remain available on the App Store.

With services like Dropbox or Amazon Kindle, users can still open a browser and make a transaction, like additional storage, that will be reflected in the official iOS application. But developers cannot allow users to make that purchase with a link from the iOS application without using Apple’s in-app purchase tool for developers, which gives Apple its 30 percent share.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Apple TV 5.0.1 update, adds HD previews, other fixes

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Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It may not be the biggest update in the world, but it makes a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday released Software Update Version 5.0.1 for second and third generation Apple TVs, bringing various stability improvements and bug fixes to the set-top media streamers.

The update includes the following fixes and changes:

– Fixing an issue that caused some iOS app to have trouble connecting via AirPlay.

– Improving the reliability of Home Sharing connections; addressing an unspecified issue with Neflix login and navigation.

– Fixes for issues affecting stability and performance.

The software is meant for second and third generation Apple TVs only and can be downloaded on the unit by navigating to Settings > General > Update Software.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Mac OS X 10.7.4 update resources point towards Retina Display features in upcoming Macs

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software

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The cool stuff, it’s en route.

Per AppleInsider, assorted resources within the Mac OS X 10.7.4 update issued on Wednesday is a Retina-display-caliber icon for Apple’s built-in TextEdit application. In Mac OS X 10.7.3, the highest-quality version of the application’s icon was 512-by-512 pixels, but after updating to 10.7.4, its resolution has been doubled.

With the quality of the TextEdit icon increased greatly to 1,024-by-1,024 pixels, the file size of the icon also grew from just 209 kilobytes in OS X 10.7.3 to 1.7 megabytes in 10.7.4.

Other applications also saw their icon file sizes grow, such as the Address Book, from 279 kilobytes to 484 kilobytes, and Dashboard, from 130 kilobytes to 226 kilobytes. However, those applications do not feature Retina display 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons.

The doubling of pixels in application icons suggest that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs with ultra-high-resolution screens, much like the Retina displays currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lineup. Apple’s new iPad, released in March, packs 3.1 million pixels onto its 9.7-inch display, giving it a higher resolution than a high-definition 1080p television.

Apple has been making behind-the-scenes improvements to OS X to prepare for anticipated Retina display Macs for some time. Some application icons, like the App Store and LaunchPad, have included 1,024-by-1,024-pixel icons since OS X 10.7 Lion was in beta.

In February, it was discovered that Apple’s OS X 10.7.3 update for Lion added more high-DPI user interface elements. Various cursors were upgraded to higher-resolution versions, like the pointing-finger cursor for browsers, the “grabby hand,” and the camera cursor for taking screenshots.

Apple added HiDPI modes to OS X Lion last year, but those were only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the user interface resolution doubling that Apple has done with Retina displays on the iPhone and iPad.

Double-resolution icons can also be found in various applications in the developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system set to arrive this summer.

One report from last year claimed that Apple is planning to launch a new MacBook Pro with a 2,880-by-1,800-pixel Retina display this year. That would be exactly twice the resolution of the 1,440-by-900-pixel display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple’s next-generation Macs are expected to be powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Intel announced last September that Ivy Bridge chips would include support for screens with a 4K resolution, providing up to 4,096-by-4,096 pixels per monitor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail updated to 5.3

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 12:09
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.3 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Added ability to clear DNS cache.

– Added ability to modify the delay for auto-show of the Dock (Interface – Dock).

– Added “Enable half-star ratings” iTunes setting (Interface – Misc).

– Added “Enable pop-up notifications in the Dock” iTunes setting (Interface – Misc).

– Added OS X 10.7.4 compatibility.

– Fixed compatibility issues with Adobe Creative Suite 6.

– Minor improvements to the scheduler.

– Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 5.3 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Safari 5.1.7 nixes outdated Flash versions, focuses on security-based issues

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 06:32
Category: News, security, Software

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When in doubt, go with the update.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday released an update to its Safari web browser that automatically disables old versions of Adobe’s Flash Player as they don’t have the most up-do-date security features.

After pushing out OS X Lion 10.7.4 which included Safari version 5.1.6, Apple rolled out a separate update for the browser that can be downloaded by Mac OS X 10.7.3, Mac OS X 10.7.4 and Windows users.

According to the Safari 5.1.7 support page, the update is meant to disable older versions of Flash that pose a security risk as they lack the latest vulnerability patches.

Safari 5.1.7 will scan a Mac’s Flash assets for out-of-date software, disable it if found and inform the user via a dialog box. A link to Adobe’s website is integrated into the dialog so that users can easily locate and install the most current Flash Player.

If users need to roll back to a previous version of Flash, they must navigate to the “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins (Disabled)” folder on their Mac, drag “Flash Player.plugin” into the active “/Library/Internet Plug-Ins” folder and restart the browser.

Apple has become increasingly leery about third-party applications, perhaps due to the recent Flashback malware debacle that affected more than 600,000 Macs worldwide. One of the trojan’s first iterations was discovered in 2011 when it disguised itself as a Flash Installer, though the exploit had nothing to do with Adobe’s software.

Most recently, Apple released a Java update to cope with Flashback and even created a dedicated removal tool for those Mac owners who didn’t already have Java installed on their computers.

The Safari update comes in at 44.98MB download and can be acquired via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2012-002 for Mac OS X 10.6 operating systems

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Date: Thursday, May 10th, 2012, 06:23
Category: News, security, Software

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Amidst yesterday’s update-o-rama, the Mac OS X 10.6 side of things received some attention as well.

On Wednesday, Apple released Security Update 2012-002, a patch designed to take care of the following security details highlighted here.

The update, which is designed for both Mac OS X 10.6 Client and Mac OS X 10.6 Server, weighs in as a 239 megabyte download and can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Security Update 2012-002 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Safari 5.1.7 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 14:59
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released Safari 5.1.7, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 45 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

– Improve the browser’s responsiveness when the system is low on memory.

– Fix an issue that could prevent webpages from responding after using a pinch to zoom gesture.

– Fix an issue that could affect websites using forms to authenticate users.

– Disable versions of Adobe Flash Player that do not include the latest security updates and provide the option to get the current version from Adobe’s website.

Safari 5.1.7 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.