Researcher draws attention to long-standing security vulnerability in OS X operating systems

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 10:19
Category: News, security, Software

applelogo_silver

After five months, it might be time to fix this sucker…

Per mitre.org and Ars Technica, a unaddressed bug in Apple’s Mac OS X discovered five months ago allows hackers to bypass the usual authentication measures by tweaking specific clock and user timestamp settings, granting near unlimited access to a computer’s files.

While the security flaw has been around for nearly half a year, a new module created by developers of testing software Metasploit makes it easier to exploit the vulnerability in Macs.

The bug revolves around a Unix program called sudo, which allows or disallows users operational access based on privilege levels. Top tier privileges grant access to files belonging to other users’ files, though that level of control is password protected.

Instead of inputting a password, the flaw works around authentication by setting a computer’s clock to Jan. 1, 1970, or what is referred to as the Unix epoch. Unix time starts at zero hours on this date and is the basis for calculations. By resetting a Mac’s clock, as well as the sudo user timestamp, to epoch, time restrictions and privilege limitations can be bypassed.

“The bug is significant because it allows any user-level compromise to become root, which in turn exposes things like clear-text passwords from Keychain and makes it possible for the intruder to install a permanent rootkit,” said H.D. Moore, founder of the open-source Metasploit and chief research officer at security firm Rapid7.

Macs are especially vulnerable to the bug as OS X does not require a password to change these clock settings. As a result, all versions of the operating system from OS X 10.7 to the current 10.8.4 are affected. The same problem exists in Linux builds, but many of those iterations password protect clock changes.

While powerful, the bypass method has limitations. In order to implement changes, an attacker must already be logged in to a Mac with administrator privileges and have run sudo at least once before. As noted by the National Vulnerability Database, the person attempting to gain unauthorized privileges must also have physical or remote access to the target computer.

Apple has yet to respond or issue a patch for the bug.

“I believe Apple should take this more seriously but am not surprised with the slow response given their history of responding to vulnerabilities in the open source tools they package,” Moore said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Georgia Institute of Technology security researchers prove App Store security flaw via “Jekyll and Hyde” attack

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, 07:18
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

The good news is that it’s getting a bit harder to sneak malware into the App Store.

The bad news is that it can still be done and Apple might need to invest in more security/screening features.

Per 9to5Mac and Ars Technica, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology managed to get a malicious app approved by Apple and included in the App Store by using a ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ approach, where the behaviour of a benign app was remotely changed after it had been approved and installed.

It appeared to be a harmless app that Apple reviewers accepted into the iOS App Store. They were later able to update the app to carry out a variety of malicious actions without triggering any security alarms. The app, which the researchers titled “Jekyll,” worked by taking the binary code that had already been digitally signed by Apple and rearranging it in a way that gave it new and malicious behaviors.

The researchers presented their findings in a paper at the USENIX Security Forum.

“Our method allows attackers to reliably hide malicious behavior that would otherwise get their app rejected by the Apple review process. Once the app passes the review and is installed on an end user’s device, it can be instructed to carry out the intended attacks. The key idea is to make the apps remotely exploitable and subsequently introduce malicious control flows by rearranging signed code. Since the new control flows do not exist during the app review process, such apps, namely Jekyll apps, can stay undetected when reviewed and easily obtain Apple’s approval.”

An Apple spokesman stated that changes have been made to iOS as a result of the exploit, but it’s not yet clear whether the change is to iOS 7 or the older iOS 5 and 6 versions that had been attacked. The researchers only left their app in the store for a few minutes and said that it was not downloaded by anyone outside the project in that time.

Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller tweeted back in March about a study revealing the rising incidences of malware on Android. The study showed that Android accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware in 2012, while iOS came in at less than 1 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.8.800.146 beta

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 16th, 2013, 09:19
Category: News, security, Software

When in doubt, there’s always the public beta to make things a bit better.

On Thursday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.8.800.115 for Mac OS X, an 18 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:

- Includes new features as well as enhancements and bug fixes related to security, stability, performance, and device compatibility.

The Adobe Flash Player 11.8.800.146 beta requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Firefox updated to 23.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 11:29
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

The updates just keep comin’.

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 23.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 44.3 megabyte download via MacUpdate, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Mixed content blocking enabled to protects users from man-in-the-middle attacks and eavesdroppers on HTTPS pages (learn more).

- Options panel created for Web Developer Toolbox.

- “Enable JavaScript” preference checkbox has been removed and user-set values will be reset to the default.

- Updated Firefox Logo.

- Improved about:memory’s functional UI.

- Simplified interface for notifications of plugin installation.

- Enabled DXVA2 on Windows Vista+ to accelerate H.264 video decoding.

- Users can now switch to a new search provider across the entire browser.

- CSP policies using the standard syntax and semantics will now be enforced rendering improvements (see bug 838675).

- Replace fixed-ratio audio resampler in webrtc.org capture code with Speex resampler and eliminate pseudo-44000Hz rate.

- “Load images automatically” and Always show the tab bar” checkboxes removed from preferences and reset to defaults.

- HTML5 form control implemented.

- Write more accessible pages on touch interfaces with new ARIA role for key buttons.

- Social share functionality.

- Added unprefixed requestAnimationFrame.

- Implemented a global browser console.

- Dropped blink effect from text-decoration: blink; and completely removed element.

- New feature in toolbox: Network Monitor.

- Various security fixes.

Firefox 23.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Adobe Flash Player updated to 11.7.700.225

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 06:00
Category: News, security, Software

An update’s an update.

On Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.7.700.225 for Mac OS X, an 18 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:
- Camera is not working for stageVideo(iOS)(3558247).

- No option to disable hardware acceleration(3560209).

- No option to fallback to WAV audio(3553459).

- Addresses vulnerabilities that could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.

Adobe Flash Player 11.7.700.225 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Security Update 2013-002 for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 operating systems

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, 06:40
Category: News, security, Software

applelogo_silver

There were security updates yesterday.

And we’re still trying to figure out what was specifically changed.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released security updates for Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) and Lion (OS X 10.7) on Tuesday, for both the client and server versions of the OSes.

The patch notes for all four updates say precisely nothing, and Apple’s security update page—where security patch notes get released—has not yet been updated with these releases.

Still, if you’re running Mac OS X 10.6 or later, make sure to run the Software Update feature to snag and install the latest updates.

For those of you who like the direct approach, here are the download links for the updates:
About Security Update 2013-002 (Lion) – 57.68MB

About Security Update 2013-002 Server (Lion) – 105.61MB

About Security Update 2013-002 (Snow Leopard) – 329.85MB

About Security Update 2013-002 Server (Snow Leopard) – 404.83MB

If you’ve tried the security updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

How-To: Encrypt volumes on your hard drive

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 28th, 2013, 07:26
Category: How-To, News, security

encryption

It’s understandable that you’d want to keep your personal stuff, well, personal. That being said, CNET’s mighty Topher Kessler has turned out a spiffy step-by-step guide as to how to encrypt certain parts of your Mac’s hard drive while keeping other parts open as needed using OS X’s Disk Utility and Terminal applications.

Take a gander here and if you know of any cool security tricks you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments.

Apple rolls out two-step ID recovery option to additional countries

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 13th, 2013, 03:58
Category: News, security

applelogo_silver

This might help keep your Apple ID credentials a bit safer.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple recently introduced two-step verification for your Apple ID in certain countries, and the process is now being expanded to the rest of the world. The feature, which requires two different codes for verifying your Apple ID was initially only available in the US, UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. But Apple has now included Canada in on the feature, as well as users in Argentina, Pakistan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium and Portugal. In other words, two-step authentication is now rolling out to a more or less worldwide release.

The authentication process is still optional — if users don’t think you need it, they can still stick with just their Apple ID passwords as a login. The process does help security, though it’s still not a perfect solution. Apple only implemented this procedure earlier this year due to some security concerns on behalf of users. But it will help against some attacks, and it should work as another step to keep unwanted invaders out of your Apple ID account.

As always, please let us know what you make of this over in the comments section.

Microsoft releases Office 2008 12.3.6 update for Mac

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 08:25
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.6 update. The update, a 209.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- This update fixes critical issues and also helps to improve security. It includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.6 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

Firefox updated to 20.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013, 09:12
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

And just a few years ago, they were at version 3.0…

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 20.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 38.3 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

New:
- Security fixes.

- Per-window Private Browsing.

- New download experience.

- Ability to close hanging plug-ins, without the browser hanging.

- Continued performance improvements around common browser tasks (page loads, downloads, shutdown, etc.).

- Continued implementation of draft ECMAScript 6 – clear() and Math.imul.

- New JavaScript Profiler tool.

- getUserMedia implemented for web access to the user’s camera and microphone (with user permission).

Various:
- Details button on Crash Reporter.

- Unity plugin doesn’t display in HiDPI mode.

Known Issues:
- If you try to start Firefox using a locked profile, it will crash.

- Some function keys may not work when pressed.

- Browsing and Download history clearing needs unification to avoid confusion on clearing download history.

- Download statusbar add-on continues downloading files from Normal.

- Browsing, when switching to Private Browsing.

- Copy actions are broken on HTML5 videos.

Firefox 20.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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