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Apple security patch problems fixed

What to do if the update appears to leave holes open

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Register readers experiencing problems with Apple's Security Update 2004-06-07 can take heart that the update does work, and its apparent inability to cope with some exploits can be solved using a little Terminal trickery.

We were not alone in having troubles with the update when we applied it to our own Mac yesterday. A number of readers emailed us to say they too found the patch permitted certain vulnerability tests to operate.

The issue centres on those who have taken the test before. Mac OS X's LaunchServices sub-system records what apps have been run, which document types they 'own' and which URIs they respond to. If, like us, you've previously run the test, either to determine its effects or to test Unsanity's Paranoid Android utility, the patched LaunchServices will happily let it through when you run the tests again.

Apple's patch was - understandably - designed with the reasonable belief that no Macs had been exploited, even benignly.

Our thanks, then, to reader Dave Schroeder who pointed out this tip over at Mac OS X Hints. The instructions allow you to reset LaunchServices' database, forcing it to lose the application-data-URI links registered by the vulnerabiltiy tests.

Just run Mac OS X's Terminal app and paste in the following:

/System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

Note that you may need to edit the line in a text editor first, to remove carriage returns and spaces between the slashes.

We can confirm that the reset allows the patch to do its stuff with the tests and a number of those here.

Security Updates for Mac OS X v10.3.4'Panther' and Mac OS X Server v10.3.4 can be found here and for Mac OS X v10.2.8 'Jaguar' and Mac OS X Server v10.2.8 here. ®

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