Adobe Reader, Acrobat Pro updated to 11.0.04

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 07:41
Category: News, security, Software

You can’t knock a useful update.

On Tuesday, Adobe released version 11.0.04 of its Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat Pro applications. The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, add the following fixes and changes:

- This update provides system requirement enhancements, mitigation for security issues, improved overall stability, bug fixes, and feature enhancements.

Acrobat Reader 11.0.04 and Acrobat Pro 11.0.04 require an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Apple confirms September 10th media event, hints at next-gen iPhone handsets

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Date: Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, 06:12
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

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It went official yesterday.

On Tuesday, Apple sent out invitations for a media event next Tuesday, Sept. 10, at which the company is expected to show off its next-generation iPhone models that will come in a new range of colors.

Per The Loop, the event will kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, according to The Loop. It will be held at Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Though the invitation itself makes no mention of the iPhone, it does say that the announcement “should brighten everyone’s day” — a likely reference to the fact that Apple is expected to offer its next iPhones in an array of new colors. Specifically, leaked parts have suggested “iPhone 5S” will be available in a new “champagne” shade, while a low-cost plastic “iPhone 5C” will potentially be available in white, green, red, blue, pink, and possibly more.


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Colors featured in the invitation include yellow, green, orange, white, red, pink, and shades of dark and light blue. Apple’s forthcoming iOS 7 update is also a more vibrant and colorful update to the company’s mobile operating system.

The company may have some surprises in store for fans and observers when Chief Executive Tim Cook presumably takes the stage next Tuesday, but the event is widely expected to center on the company’s largest revenue generator: the iPhone. It will likely see the unveiling of the successor to the iPhone 5, currently thought to be named the “iPhone 5S.”

The company’s next-generation premium smartphone is expected to include a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. Last year, Apple purchased AuthenTec, a biometric security firm, potentially setting the stage for the defining feature of this year’s iPhone.

Integrating a fingerprint sensor — a move that would largely negate the need for passwords and lock-screen codes — could give Apple an edge that its competition could not likely soon address.

Apple’s “S” series iPhones have typically been refinements of the models immediately preceding them, and most of the rumors surrounding the “5S” have been in that vein. Leaked cases for the device have shown that it will retain the same form factor as the iPhone 5, though it may be available in a “champagne” color option, as well as the existing black and white models.

Analysts expect a 31 percent faster “A7″ chip that could be 20 percent more power efficient than the A6 seen in the iPhone 5. It may also feature a dedicated motion-tracking chip to enable a new range of user interactions.

Apple is also rumored to offer a model of the device with 128 gigabytes of storage, while the camera is expected to be upgraded with a dual-LED flash component for better low-light pictures. It’s likely that the camera itself will also see improvements.

Perhaps the most widely leaked device, though, has been the expected lower-cost plastic iPhone. That model is believed to be called the “iPhone 5C,” and recent leaks of an apparent user manual seem to confirm that name.

Observers believe that Apple will largely repackage the internals of the existing iPhone 5 into a polycarbonate shell to lower manufacturing costs. To differentiate the device, the “5C” would be available in a range of colors.

The move back to polycarbonate for the chassis would allow Apple to offer the “iPhone 5C” at a much lower price point than the premium-built iPhone 5 or anticipated “iPhone 5S.” That lower price could give Apple a better chance of picking up mid-range smartphone customers, who often choose Android phones when upgrading from feature phones simply due to price.

Most importantly, though, a lower-cost iPhone would give Apple a much better chance of competing in the world’s largest smartphone market: China. Investment firm UBS opined in August that an affordable iPhone would move more than 11 million units on China Mobile alone.

The Sept. 10 event will also mark the announcement of a release date for Apple’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 7. The new platform, revealed at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, features an almost complete visual overhaul, with many of the features of previous iOS versions giving way to a “flatter” aesthetic spun out of the leadership of Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief.

Aside from the new look, iOS 7 will also feature iTunes Radio, a new music streaming service that will take on Pandora, Spotify, and other services. It will also come with improvements to Siri, allowing Apple’s digital assistant to display more information and control phone settings, and tweaks to the Camera app, giving users access to more editing options.

The media event is likely to offer final – and long-anticipated – release dates for the next-gen iPhone handsets as well as iOS 7.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple blocks certain Java plug-ins, goes through security protocols yet again

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 08:46
Category: News, security, Software

As nifty and useful as Java tends to be, its security nightmares remain.

And you should probably download and install the most recent version possible.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple blocked the Java 6 and Java 7 plug-ins for the third time this year over Mac users on Thursday over more potential security threats. Mac users running versions of Java that are earlier than version 6 update 51 and version 7 update 25 can no longer run Java code on their computer until they update to a newer version.

Apple hasn’t uninstalled Java from user’s Macs, and instead has simply disabled the older versions of the plug-in, which means apps and websites that rely on Java either won’t work or will be partially non-functional. Users running newer versions of the plug-ins aren’t affected.

This isn’t the first time this year Apple has remotely disabled older versions of Java over security-related issues. For Mac owners that don’t actually need Java, you can uninstall it, or at least find out exactly which version is living on your Mac, by following along with TMO’s handy guide.

Apple has taken to remotely disabling older versions of Java on user’s Macs, and will also auto-disable the plug-in when it hasn’t been used for at least 30 days. You can also disable Java yourself in Safari’s preferences.

Apple has stopped maintaining Java on its own and has handed that task off to Oracle, which also happens to be the company that develops the Java platform. Assuming you need Java on your Mac, you can find the latest version at Oracle’s Java website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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

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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

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

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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.