Apple Patches iTunes MPEG Decoding Flaw
Apple Computer Inc. has debuted version 4.8 of its iTunes music-playing application, which adds support for a few new features and fixes a serious security vulnerability.
The update is Apples third serious security fix in as many weeks, following a combined update last week repairing 20 bugs, and an April patch for OS X and the Safari browser. All three have included vulnerabilities that could allow an Internet attacker to take over a system.
The iTunes flaw, affecting versions of the software up to 4.8, involves the way the application parses MPEG-4 files, such as the AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) files sold on the iTunes Music Store. A buffer overflow could be exploited by malicious MPEG-4 files to cause iTunes to crash or execute malicious code. The flaw was discovered by NGS Software, according to Apples advisory.
The new iTunes version fixes the problem by improving the validation checks used when loading MPEG-4 files, Apple officials said. Independent security firm Secunia gave the flaw a "highly critical" rating. iTunes has become widespread on enterprise and home desktops due to the success of Apples iPod music player, which uses iTunes as its interface on Windows and Mac OS X.
Apples Security Update 2005-005, released last week, covered a wide range of vulnerabilities that could be exploited by remote or local attackers to execute arbitrary commands, trigger a denial-of-service condition or obtain elevated privileges, according to Apple. It followed two weeks after a patch for vulnerabilities potentially allowing security bypass, privilege escalation, denial of service and system access.
As for the newly released Tiger version of OS X, a programmer last week disclosed that it is fairly easy to create intrusive "widgets" that automatically install themselves via a specially crafted Web site. The operating system has also had compatibility problems with enterprise networking software.
The iTunes update offers a few other features, such as support for transferring contacts and calendars from a Mac to an iPod, and new Music Store features such as video downloads, Apple officials said. It coincides with the launch of four new Music Stores in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland; Apple now claims to geographically cover 70 percent of the worlds music-buying public with its 19 stores. Song sales recently passed the 400 million mark, the company said.
The Swiss launch will be accompanied by a promotion with financial services firm UBS to give a free song to every Swiss citizen 13 years or older and currently residing in the country.
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