Analyst: WinSafari Hole Still Open

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-06-26 Print this article Print

Does Apple only care about exploits that get a spotlight?

The vulnerabilities Errata Security found in Apples Safari beta for Windows—within hours of the browsers June 11 launch—are still open, CTO Dave Maynor said in a blog on June 25. "The vulnerabilities found by Errata Security are still present in the Windows version of the Browser," he wrote. The posting has since been removed, pending the addition of further details, Maynor told eWEEK. Apple hadnt responded to questions by the time this posted.
The Safari bugs are proof positive of Maynors assertion that client-side vulnerabilities are easy as pie to find in Apple code, he said.
Click here to read about Apples latest patches. "I basically just ran the OSX version of Safari through a fuzzer, and it crashed in a few seconds," he wrote in the June 25 post. Errata made test results public back on April 23 in this blog post after finding one particular exploit. The reason Apple hasnt jumped on fixing it, Maynor charges, is that the press has ignored this exploit. Also, because Safari exploits are "a dime a dozen," Errata didnt bother to search for more exploits than the security firm needed to write an HEV (Hacker Eye View) on why enterprises should ban Safari, he said. "If you look at the vulnerabilities that Apple fixes quickly, they are the ones that make headlines," Maynor said. "So reporting the vulnerability to Apple is pretty useless because they wont fix it in a timely fashion, and releasing details on it is useless as well because that would only be aiding the bad guys in creating malware. I call this only fix it if its in the public spotlight the Eddie Haskell syndrome. For those of you who didnt watch Leave it to Beaver, that means they act very responsible when someone is looking but [when their] back is turned they become a brat." If Maynor sounds bitter, its because he has been sharply criticized for not disclosing vulnerabilities to Apple. One example, from Matasanos Jeremy Rauch: "…Dave, if youre not going to keep Apple in the loop, and you are going to harbor secret Safari vulnerabilities that only your company and your customers and whoever your customers talk to and whoever … manages to break into those customers may be, can I ask a favor? Can you post what your code of ethics is? A lot of us would like to know," he wrote after Maynor published the WinSafari vulnerabilities. Of course, the dysfunctional relationship between Maynor and Apple goes back further than the WinSafari bugs disclosure, back at least to the fall 2006 ToorCon fiasco, where Maynor and fellow security researcher Jon "Johnny Cache" Ellch were pressured out of giving a presentation on exploitable flaws in wireless device drivers in Windows and Macs. Apple went so far as to omit mention of Maynors discovery of the flaw in acknowledgments given with the subsequent update. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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