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Data Security

Apple Finally Fixes OS X 'Gotofail' Flaw

Apple Finally Fixes OS X
February 26, 2014 11:05AM

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A flaw like the gotofail SSL flaw could open up Apple Mac OS X users to hackers who could steal their personal information. The gotofail flaw in the Apple Mac OS X and others like it also serve as reminders that SSL is "horribly broken" and shouldn't be trusted, said Tyler Reguly, manager of security research for Tripwire.

Neustar, Inc. (NYSE: NSR) is a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information and analysis to the Internet, telecommunications, information services, financial services, retail, media and advertising sectors. Neustar applies its advanced, secure technologies in location, identification, and evaluation to help its customers promote and protect their businesses. More information is available at www.neustar.biz.

Microsoft vulnerabilities. Monthly. Adobe zero-day patches. Fairly common. Oracle patches. Lots of them. But this week the industry is seeing something a little more rare: Apple security fixes.

For all the talk that Apple is largely immune to hacker attacks, the company on Tuesday issued a fix for Mac computers to protect users' personal information from being stolen by hackers. It’s a critical “gotofail” SSL flaw that could open a door for hackers to access a victim’s communications, including FaceTime video chats, e-mail addresses and address book appointments, and even Find My Mac tracking information.

The security update, OS X version 10.9.2, fixes the flaw in OS X Mavericks as well as the older Mountain Lion; older versions of Mac OS X are not thought to be affected.

“The bug was caused by a line of C code that says 'goto fail,' which was a self-descriptive irony too amusing to ignore,” writes Sophos security analyst Paul Ducklin in a blog post. “So the bug quickly became known as the ‘goto fail’, or even the ‘double-goto-fail.’ (The error was that the line appeared twice instead of once.)”

SSL is Horribly Broken

We caught up with Tyler Reguly, manager of security research for Tripwire, to see what he had say about these fixes. He told us this type of bug leaves him torn.

“I hate seeing flaws like this because of how dangerous they are but they also serve as a good reminder that SSL is horribly broken. The moment people get comfortable with SSL, these bugs crop up to remind people that it's a dangerous thing to trust,” Reguly said.

“When I think about people visiting coffee shops and hotels with wireless networks and think about how many iOS devices are connecting regularly, it makes me cringe. This bug could prove devastating for a lot of users. The iPhone is sometimes overlooked when it comes to updates and a lot of people will linger on older versions. Let's hope that the press behind this one is enough to inspire the majority of users to upgrade," he added.

Apple Fixes Galore

Apple issued a slew of other fixes including on for the App Sandbox. The LaunchServices interface for launching an application allowed sandboxed apps to specify the list of arguments passed to the new process. Apple said a compromised sandboxed application could abuse this to bypass the sandbox. This issue was addressed by preventing sandboxed applications from specifying arguments.

A memory corruption issue exists in how the operating system handles Type 1 fonts. That means viewing or downloading a document that contains a maliciously crafted embedded font may lead to arbitrary code execution. A buffer overflow issue was found in Mach (cq) message handling. And it turns out that resetting Safari did not always delete session cookies until Safari was closed. Apple addressed this issue through improved handling of session cookies.

Then there’s the flaw in Apple’s CoreAnimation. Visiting a maliciously crafted site may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. Apple fixed this, as well as an issue in CoreText that may be vulnerable to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.

A curl fix will prevent an attacker with a privileged network position from intercepting user credentials or other sensitive information and a Data Security patch will make sure an attacker with a privileged network position can’t capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS. The list of fixes goes on and on.

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