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Vuln exposes soft underbelly of Mac OS X

Apple patch pending

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Details of a vulnerability in Mac OS X that creates a mechanism for crackers to take over vulnerable machines has been posted on the Net.

Security researcher William Carrel released details of a vulnerability, and suggested workarounds, in advance of a fix from Apple because of what he sees as the vendor's sluggish response to the problem.

The issue stems from a flaw in Apple's Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) client that means a user can be tricked into logging onto a rogue server. DHCP servers manage the assignment of IP addresses on a network.

If an Apple machine is booted in a hostile environment, this vulnerability means an attacker could load malicious code and take full control of a vulnerable Mac OS X workstation or server.

Exploitation is possible in both wired and wireless environments but by far the greater risk appears to come with WLANs.

The vulnerability affects Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3 on both workstation and servers. Earlier versions of Mac OS X may also be vulnerable.

Carrel suggests a number of workarounds including preventing any network authorisation services from obtaining settings from DHCP, as explained here.

A fix from Apple is not expected before next month at the earliest. ®

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