Intego Warns of Unrepaired Security Vulnerability in Mac OS X

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Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 08:48
Category: Software

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Security firm Intego has warned that a critical security vulnerability within the current version of Java has gone unrepaired for months and may place Mac OS X users at risk.
According to the company’s web site, the current version of Java incorporates a serious flaw that could allow local code on a user’s Mac to be executed remotely.
“This can lead to ‘drive-by attacks,’ where users are attacked simply by visiting a malicious web site and loading a web page,” the firm said.
The exploit could allow a third-party to execute code, access or delete files, or run applications on the compromised machine. Combined with other exploits, outside parties could even potentially run system-level processes and gain total access over the affected Mac.
Given that the vulnerability relies solely on Java, no native code is required to execute the flaw, which theoretically exists in all browsers on all platforms that have not been patched. This is the case with Mac OS X 10.5.7 and earlier, meaning the vulnerability affects even the update released just a week ago.
The firm claims that Apple has been aware of the exploit for at least five months, when it was publicly disclosed and fixed by Sun, but has yet to issue a security patch. The exploit was first discovered by Landon Fuller, who has released a proof of concept via his blog that outlines the security hole.
Intego has stated that it has not found any malicious applets in the wild thus far, but the publicity around this vulnerability may entice hackers to target the exploit before Apple issues a security update. The firm’s VirusBarrier X5 already blocks potential malware but unless users are sure they trust the site they’re viewing, simply disabling Java in the browser may provide the best protection while Apple works on a fix.
To disable Java, launch Safari, choose Safari > Preferences, click the Security tab, and uncheck “Enable Java” if it is checked. In Firefox, this setting is found on the Content tab of the program’s preferences. It is safe to leave JavaScript activated, since the vulnerability only affects Java applets.

Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update

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Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:32
Category: Software

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After months of anticipation, Apple has released Mac OS X 10.5.7, the latest update for its Leopard operating system. According to Macworld, the update includes more than 20 major updates as well as security fixes.
Included within the fixes are additional RAW image support for third-party digital cameras, improved performance of video playback for recent Macs with Nvidia graphics chips, and resolution for an issue with the Dvorak keyboard layout in 10.5.6.
The update also features fixes to help resolve third-party network services such as improved reliability in syncing contacts with Yahoo and a fix for issues that could occur when logging into Google’s Gmail. The update also improves the reliability and accuracy of several of OS X’s Dashboard widgets, like Unit Converter, Weather, Stocks, and Movies.
Apple-specific fixes within the update include improved reliability for iCal’s CalDav, better syncing with MobileMe, improved Notes syncing within Apple Mail and a bug fix where Apple Mail’s BCC field populated incorrectly in certain cases. Apple also improved consistency with Parental Controls and fixed a bug with the system when using full-screen games and Fast User Switching, and also fixed several printing issues, including adding the ability for non-admin users to add and remove printers.
Other fixes include a number of security fixes in the update for the Apache Web server, PHP, CoreGraphics, as well as patches for three separate vulnerabilities discovered as part of Tipping Point’s Zero Day Initiative, which appear to be the same ones demonstrated at the CanSecWest security conference last March. The fixes address issues in Apple Type Services, QuickDraw Manager, and WebKit, each of which could lead to arbitrary code execution.
Apple also released Mac OS X Server 10.5.7 Update, which rolls out fixes for a number of systems, including Client Management, Directory Services, AFP Server, System Image Utility, and more. The update also includes improved kernel stability and a number of security enhancements which had not been detailed at this writing.
The Mac OS X 10.5.7 update is available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature and is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Leopard. A combo updater, weighing in at a hefty 729MB download, is also available for those upgrading from versions of Leopard previous to 10.5.6.
Finally, if you’ve installed Mac OS X 10.5.7 and have any feedback, positive or negative to offer about it, let us know and we’ll see that it’s published by Friday.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.0.10 Update

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Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 07:17
Category: Software

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Early Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.0.10 of its Firefox web browser.
The new version, a 17.3 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:

  • Fixed a security issue.
  • Fixed a major stability issue.
  • The program requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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    Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.0.9 Update

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    Date: Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009, 08:02
    Category: Software

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    Early Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.0.9 of its Firefox web browser.
    The new browser, a 17.3 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:

  • Fixed several security issues.
  • Fixed several stability issues.
  • Many users experienced an issue where a corrupt local database caused Firefox to “lose” its stored cookies. (bug 470578)
  • Fixed an issue where, starting with Firefox 3.0.7, inline image attachments on popular webmail services (like AOL and AIM) would not display. (bug 482659)
  • Large forms would sometimes take a long time to submit. (bug 426991)
  • In certain cases, new windows would not have proper focus. (bug 446568)
  • The program requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

    Mac Hacker Charlie Miller Locations Additional Security Hole in iPhone

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    Date: Friday, April 17th, 2009, 07:33
    Category: iPod, security

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    Mac hacker Charlie Miller, a principal security analyst at Independent Security Evaluators and the winner of the the CanSecWest security conference hacking contest two years straight, has detailed his latest find wherein he was able to run shellcode on an iPhone.
    According to Macworld UK, it was widely believed by many security researchers that it wasn’t possible to run shellcode on an iPhone. Shellcode is code that can run from a command line, but the iPhone was thought not to allow it for security reasons.
    If pulled off correctly, shellcode allows users to perform malicious actions such as gaining access to a users text messages or call history from a remote location.
    Earlier versions of the iPhone OS firmware didn’t have many protections to prevent people from tampering with its memory to run other commands, Miller said. But the latest version of the iPhone’s software strengthened the overall security of the phone, Miller said.
    In his report, Miller detailed how he was able to trick the iPhone into running code which then enabled shellcode. To pull this off, Miller said he needed to have a working exploit for an iPhone and a means of targeting a vulnerability in the software such as the Safari web browser or the iPhone’s operating system.
    Miller said he doesn’t have one now but stated that if someone did, “this would allow you to run whatever code you want,” Miller said in an interview after his presentation.
    In 2007 Miller and some of his colleagues did find a vulnerability in mobile Safari that would allow an attacker to control the iPhone. Apple was immediately notified and later issued a patch for the problem.
    Miller said he isn’t sure if Apple is aware of the latest issue and stopped short of calling the problem a vulnerability, saying instead that Apple engineers may have overlooked the issue. Apple also has never come out publicly and said it is impossible to run shellcode on an iPhone, he said.

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    Microsoft Releases Office 2004 11.5.4, Office 2008 12.1.7 Updates

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    Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 07:17
    Category: Software

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    On Tuesday, Microsoft released updates for both its Office 2004 and Office 2008 suites for the Mac.
    Microsoft Office 2004 version 11.5.4, a 9.7 megabyte download through the AutoUpdate program, offers stability and performance fixes and repairs a vulnerability in which an outside party could insert malicious code.
    The program requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later to install and run.
    The company also released Microsoft Office 2008 12.1.7, a 267.7 megabyte download through the AutoUpdate program that offers improvements to enhance security, stability, and performance, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.
    Additional details regarding the update can be found here.
    Microsoft Office 2008 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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    Recent Mac OS X 10.5.7 Beta Focuses on 100+ Fixes, Second Security Update for 2009

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    Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 07:44
    Category: Software

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    A recent Mac OS X 10.5.7 beta has made its way among Apple developer with Apple apparently also beta testingits second security update of the year for certain Mac OS X distributions.
    According to AppleInsider, build 9J44 of Mac OS X 10.5.7 was released to developers. The new beta arrives a little more than a week after the company issued build 9J39 and, per sources close to the story, offers a fix for a PDF font render along with four other fixes, thus bringing the number of documented code corrections to 104.
    Similarly, the lone issue affecting the last several builds has been the inability to install Apple’s Safari 4 beta, which hasn’t been tweaked to run on the new system update.
    Mac OS X 10.5.7, code-named Juno, is expected for a release sometime this month and reportedly weighs in at approximately 442MB. A combo updater capable of updating versions of Leopard prior to 10.5.6 and bundling earlier security improvements is currently about 730MB.
    Where the second security update is concerned, Apple has reportedly tasked security experts with evaluating its second security update to Mac OS X of the 2009 calendar year. The release is said to be in testing for versions of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 operating system and a version for Mac OS X 10.5 has yet to be reported.
    People familiar with the situation say Apple doesn’t brief its security testers on the improvements it bundles into beta security updates and instead asks them probe for holes blindly. As such, it’s not entirely clear what components of Tiger it targets, though the rumor is that it addresses a networking vulnerability.
    Apple is expected to recommend the update “for all users” saying it “improves the security of Mac OS X.” Four different distributions are currently being evaluated: Tiger client (PPC), Tiger server (PPC), Tiger client (Intel), and Tiger server (Intel).
    The latest known builds are reportedly 8S410 (PPC) and 8S2410 (Intel).

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    Apple Clamping Down on Jailbreaking, Other Practices with Latest iPhone NDA

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    Date: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009, 08:19
    Category: iPhone, Legal

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    With iPhone OS 3.0 en route, Apple appears to be taking a more aggressive stance against develops writing applications for jailbroken iPhone handsets. Per an Ars Technica article, Apple has recently updated its “iPhone Developer Program License Agreement”, the new version explicitly disallowing jailbreaking, assisting in jailbreaking, and developing and distributing jailbreak apps.
    The report goes on to mention that while previous agreements forbade the creation of apps that violate privacy, facilitate crimes, or violate intellectual property laws, the new one restricts developers from jailbreaking their own phones.
    Back in February, Apple publicly defined its legal stance on iPhone jailbreaking, arguing that it represents copyright infringement and a DMCA violation. During this time, an Electronic Frontier Foundation proposal asked for an exemption that would allow jailbreaking of iPhones or other handsets, effectively liberating the devices to run applications other than those obtained from Apple’s own iTunes App Store.
    The report also states that developers are also “forbidden from using the iPhone OS, SDK, or other developer tools to develop applications for distribution in any way other than the App Store or Ad Hoc distribution.” The new changes place significant restrictions on distribution, which is now only available via the App Store at Apple’s sole discretion.
    The report also notes that updated segments of the NDA specifically restrict jailbreaking or circumventing the iPhone’s built-in OS security. Though such agreements aren’t likely to entirely prevent third-party developers from writing applications, they will likely discourage developers from submitting their unapproved or rejected app on other distribution outlets that offer alternatives for customers interested in buying, testing, or installing with their software.
    The text defining these restrictions reads as follows:

    (e)You will not, through use of the Apple Software, services or otherwise, create any Application or other program that would disable, hack or otherwise interfere with the Security Solution, or any security, digital signing, digital rights management, verification or authentication mechanisms implemented in or by the iPhone operating system software, iPod touch operating system software, this Apple Software, any services or other Apple software or technology, or enable others to do so; and
    (f) Applications developed using the Apple Software may only be distributed if selected by Apple (in its sole discretion) for distribution via the App Store or for limited distribution on Registered Devices (ad hoc distribution) as contemplated in this Agreement.

    Last September, Apple extended its iPhone Developer NDA by restricting the information that developers could discuss publicly by telling developers in its App Store rejection letters that “the information contained in this message is under non-disclosure.” While discussion of details in iPhone development is generally restricted, numerous developers have complained publicly about rejections without repercussion.
    If you have two cents to hurl in about this, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.0.8 Update

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    Date: Monday, March 30th, 2009, 06:16
    Category: Software

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    On Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.0.8 of its Firefox web browser.
    The new browser, a 17.3 megabyte download, boasts two unspecified security changes.
    The program requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.
    If you’ve tried the new browser and have any feedback about it, let us know over in the comments or forums.

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    Adobe Reader Updated to 9.1

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    Date: Wednesday, March 11th, 2009, 08:15
    Category: Software

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    On Tuesday, Adobe released version 8.1 of its free Reader program. The program, which has long been a staple for viewing and printing Portable Document Format (PDF) files, includes the following changes:
    Addresses a number of customer workflow issues and a critical security vulnerability while providing more stability.
    Adobe Reader 9.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run and its download file size varies depending on version chosen.
    If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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