Apple Patches 15 Mac OS X Flaws

Apple claims most users are protected from the worst dangers of the flaws, many of which originate in the OS' open-source components.

Apple Computer Inc. has issued a patch for 15 security flaws in its Mac OS X operating system, including many originating in the softwares open-source components. The company, however, claims most users are safe from the bugs most dangerous effects.

The patch, available from Apples Web site or through its automatic update system, fixes issues with Kerberos, Apache 2, IPSec, rsync and other open-source components, as well as in Apple applications such as the Safari browser. (Safari also draws open-source components, such as KHTML and KJS.) Possible exploits include remote execution of malicious code, denial of service, local user privilege escalation, cross-site scripting and Web page spoofing.

However, most users will be protected from the flaws worst dangers, Apple said. For example, a recently publicized string of "double-free" bugs in the Kerberos authentication system doesnt affect the OS X and OS X Server version of Kerberos. Apples component is susceptible to a buffer overflow that could allow a remote attacker to take over a system, but only if "auth_to_local_names" or "auth_to_local" support is also configured in the file, Apple said. "Apple does not enable this by default," the company said in its advisory.


For insights on the Mac in the enterprise, check out Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog.

A bug in lukemftpd could allow an attacker to stop the FTP service or execute code, but OS X Server doesnt have the component activated by default, instead using xftp. Denial-of-service vulnerabilities in Apache 2 only affect OS X Server users, and the application is off by default, according to the Cupertino, Calif., company.

Other issues affect a broader range of users, including bugs in CoreFoundation, which could allow an attacker with local access to elevate privileges or execute malicious code, or a denial-of-service bug in QuickTime Streaming Server. One of the other fixes addresses a denial-of-service bug in Safari that could affect users of OS X 10.2.8; the bug doesnt exist in recent versions of the application and in versions 10.3 and later of OS X.

Open-source operating system vendors such as Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc., which rely on many of the same components as OS X, tend to release bug fixes soon after they become available. Apples policy is to release such fixes more gradually, in a combined package—a method also adopted by companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.


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