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.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.4 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 14:09
Category: News, Software

You’ve been hankering for this.

Late Wednesday, Apple released its Mac OS X 10.7.4 update. The update, a 693 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Resolve an issue in which the “Reopen windows when logging back in” setting is always enabled.

- Improve compatibility with certain British third-party USB keyboards.

- Addresses permission issues that may be caused if you use the Get Info inspector function “Apply to enclosed items…” on your home directory. For more information, see this article.

- Improve Internet sharing of PPPoE connections.

- Improve using a proxy auto-configuration (PAC) file.

- Address an issue that may prevent files from being saved to an SMB server.

- Improve printing to an SMB print queue.

- Improve performance when connecting to a WebDAV server.

- Enable automatic login for NIS accounts.

- Include RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras.

- Improve the reliability of binding and logging into Active Directory accounts.

- The OS X Lion v10.7.4 Update includes Safari 5.1.6, which contains stability improvements.

The Mac OS X 10.7.4 updater requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS x 10.7 or later.

If you’ve tried the new operating system and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 5.1.1 update

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Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 09:58
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Not that iOS 5.1 wasn’t perfect, but there’s always room for a few bugs fixes.

Per Mac|Life, Apple released iOS 5.1.1 on Monday. The update offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability of using HDR option for photos taken using the Lock Screen shortcut.

- Addresses bugs that could prevent the new iPad from switching between 2G and 3G networks.

- Fixes bugs that affected AirPlay video playback in some circumstances.

- Improved reliability for syncing Safari bookmarks and Reading List.

- Fixes an issue where ‘Unable to purchase’ alert could be displayed after successful purchase.

Users can install iOS 5.1.1 using the over-the-air Software Update from your device Settings, or by plugging into iTunes and downloading it from there. As always, recommends devices are plugged into a power source while installing.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback whatsoever, please let us know in the comments.

Symantec estimates Flashback trojan could have netted authors $10,000 a day during its peak

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Date: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012, 09:58
Category: News, security, Software

Ok, so maybe crime DOES pay…

Per Symantec’s company blog, the malware known as “Flashback” that was believed to have infected hundreds of thousands of Macs may have paid out as much as US$10,000 a day to its authors.

The estimate comes from Symantec, which said in a post to its official blog that the primary motivation behind the malware was money. The Flashback Trojan includes an ad-clicking component that will load itself into the three major browsers for Mac — Safari, Firefox and Chrome — and generate revenue for the attackers.

“Flashback specifically targets queries made on Google and, depending on the search query, may redirect users to another page of the attacker’s choosing, where they receive revenue from the click,” Symantec explained.

Peering into the Trojan’s code, the security firm found a redirected URL that generates the authors of the code 8 cents per click. If a user conducts a Google search, Flashback will “hijack” the ad click from Google, taking money away from the search giant and granting “untold sums” to the authors of the Trojan.

A previous analysis of a different Trojan found that a botnet with just 25,000 infections could generate up to US$450 per day. At its peak, the Flashback Trojan was estimated to have infected 600,000 Macs worldwide, which means the authors could have earned as much as US$10,000 per day.

The presence of Flashback has greatly diminished since Apple released a series of software updates last month aimed at squashing the malware, including a Java update and a separate removal tool.

The Flashback Trojan was first discovered by another security firm, Intego, last September. The software attempts to trick users into installing it by appearing as Adobe’s Flash Player installer package.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you haven’t downloaded and installed Apple’s anti-flashback removal tool via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, there’s no time like the present.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion developer preview 3 notes hint at changes to come with Safari web browser

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Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 06:55
Category: News, Software

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Following the release of OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, Apple has seeded Safari 5.2 Update 3 that carries a few new features and bug fixes.

Per AppleInsider, among the usual bug fixes, Safari 5.2 Update 3 comes with a new scalable vector graphics filter, redesigned Web Inspector and HTML5 media controllers. Also included are CSS filters, Web Audio API and HTML5 timed tracks.

From the release notes:

SVG Filters:
Using SVG Filters, you can combine several filter primitive elements and light source elements into a single sophisticated filter, which can then be applied to any SVG element.

HTML Assets:
- An HTML5 media controller can synchronize or otherwise coordinate the playback of multiple HTML5 media elements. For instance, you could use a media controller to overlay a sign language interpretation track over a video track, and keep the two in sync.

- A media controller has the same methods and events as an HTML media element. This means that, for example, when you call the pause() method on a controller, any
media that is slaved to that controller will be paused. Or, when a controller receives a canplaythrough event, all media slaved to that controller can be played through to the end without buffering.

- HTML5 timed text tracks enable captions, subtitles, descriptions, and chapters by letting you specify the timing of text that appears with an HTML5 video element.

CSS Filters:
- CSS filters let you apply pixel effects to any image or web page element with a single line of code. Available filter functions include sepia, hue-rotate, saturate, invert, opacity, brightness, contrast, blur, grayscale, and drop-shadow. Filters can be combined, and changes to the filter property can be animated with CSS transitions or animations.

Web Inspector:
- The Web Inspector has a streamlined new design that speeds up common development tasks. It features a new all new iconography, a navigation bar that lets you easily switch between different web page elements, a persistent JavaScript console, integrated timelines, and more. Additionally, JavaScript debugging is now enabled by default, and the page source view now opens in the Web Inspector automatically.

Web Audio API:
- The Web Audio API is a high-level JavaScript API for processing and synthesizing audio in web applications. While the HTML5 audio element allows for basic streaming and audio playback, the Web Audio API is powerful enough for more complex audio applications that require mixing, processing, or filtering audio data, such as a modern game audio engine or an interactive audio production application.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Safari 5.1.5 update

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Date: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released Safari 5.1.5, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 44.7 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Contains a fix for an issue that could affect website usability when running Safari in 32-bit mode.

Safari 5.1.5 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.

Apple releases Safari 5.1.4 update

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Date: Monday, March 12th, 2012, 09:36
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released Safari 5.1.4, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 46.4 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Improved JavaScript performance.

- Improved responsiveness when typing into the search field after changing network configurations or with an intermittent network connection.

- Addressed an issue that could cause webpages to flash white when switching between Safari windows.

- Addressed issues that prevented printing U.S. Postal Service shipping labels and embedded PDFs.

- Preserved links in PDFs saved from webpages.

- Fixed an issue that could make Flash content appear incomplete after using gesture zooming.

- Fixed an issue that could cause the screen to dim while watching HTML5 video.

- Improved stability, compatibility and startup time when using extensions

- Allows cookies set during regular browsing to be available after using Private Browsing.

- Fixed an issue that could cause some data to be left behind after pressing the “Remove All Website Data” button.

Safari 5.1.4 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.

Also, thanks to Al Gatto for the tip and if you have any quick leads, please let us know via the contact page.

New Flashback malware variant strain discovered, infection tactic changes approach

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Date: Thursday, March 8th, 2012, 10:34
Category: News, security

When in doubt, try something new.

Per Macworld, a new variant of the password-stealing Flashback malware aimed at Macs has emerged, the new software attempting to install itself after a user visits an infected website, according to new research.

Flashback, discovered by security vendor Intego last September, is engineered to steal passwords for websites, including financial sites. Since its emergence, several variants have appeared showing its authors’ innovation.

The first version of Flashback tried to trick users into installing it by masquerading as Adobe’s Flash Player. Later versions checked to see if the Apple computer in question had an unpatched version of Java with two software vulnerabilities.

If the computer was running unpatched Java, Flashback automatically installed itself. If the Java attack didn’t work, Flashback then presented itself as an Apple update with a self-signed security certificate.

The latest “Flashback.N” version spotted by Intego tries to infect the computer after a person has visited an infected Web page. The tactic is often referred to as a drive-by download. Much of the drive-by download malware for Windows can infect a computer without any action by the user merely by visiting the tampered website.

Users get a bit more warning with Flashback.N. Upon hitting the infected website, Flashback.N shows a “Software Update” dialog box similar to the legitimate Apple one and asks for a user’s password.

On its blog, Intego described the installation procedure as “somewhat odd,” as the website, that has been rigged to deliver the malware, displays Apple’s multicolored spinning gear for a while before the dialog box appears. Flashback then injects itself into the Safari browser and starts sniffing data traffic for passwords.

Earlier this week, Intego found that Flashback was using Twitter as a command-and-control mechanism. Other botnets have also used Twitter to post commands or directions to new commands.

The Flashback malware queries Twitter for 12-character hashtag composed of seemingly random characters, according to an Intego blog post. The strings are actually generated using 128-bit RC4 encryption and are composed of four characters for the day, four for the month and four for the year.

As always, look before you leap in terms of the sites you visit, keep your Mac OS X operating system updated and whoever would like to contribute to a piranha-filled pool to hurl the Flashback malware creators into upon their discovery, we welcome your contributions.

Updated JavaScript interpreter to help boost WebKit’s performance by 2, 2.5x

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 08:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t argue that WebKit’s been good for Apple and iOS in general.

Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a “triple tier virtual machine,” offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Per webkit.org, recent changes in Apple’s WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

“JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot,” a change report on the new interpreter describes.

“LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes).”

The new interpreter “is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks],” the report states. “With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we’re neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT’ing.”

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a “major contributor” to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that “JSC should be a triple-tier VM,” and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple’s next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.