Other Unpatched Flaws

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2008-03-31 Print this article Print


Miller did not use two other unpatched vulnerabilities in Safari, also revealed just days after the browser was released. The first is a pretty simple overflow; all one need do is download a ZIP file with an overly long file name, and it allows code execution. The second allows injection of content in a window belonging to a trusted site.

Then a Slashdot thread reported on research that confirms other research that indicates Apple issues patches for known vulnerabilities more slowly than Microsoft, with the result that there are more unpatched vulnerabilities on Apple platforms.

In January, Microsoft's Jeff Jones issued a report comparing vulnerability disclosures and patches on several desktop OS platforms, including OS X 10.4 and Vista. One year after Vista's release, Microsoft had fixed 36 vulnerabilities over a total of nine patching events, and 30 unpatched vulnerabilities remained. In the first year of OS X 10.4, Apple fixed a total of 116 vulnerabilities over 17 patching events, and at the end there were 41 unpatched vulnerabilities.

And the data doesn't stop there. In the week of March 17, Apple issued another one of its  massive security updates, covering 87 different vulnerabilities (as measured by the CVE numbers). Of those 87 vulnerabilities, 44 have CVE numbers from 2007, four from 2006 and two from 2005. The oldest of these, CVE-2005-3352, was fixed by Apache in 2005. So I have no trouble believing that Apple is slower than a turtle in the tar pits, let alone Microsoft.

And yet the Mac continues not to be widely attacked in the real world. With their reputation among security professionals taking a nosedive and malware for the Mac on the increase, things could change real soon. Unless all that talk of the Mac market share increasing is just hot air.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's blog Cheap Hack.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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